Dear Kalinda and Sullivan,
Happy, happy, happy birthday you two! This Wednesday you will be FOUR years old, can you even believe it?! Time—especially time related to parenting—is just the strangest thing. You spend decades waiting to be a parent (you both already talk about becoming a mom and dad one day!). Then it happens, and it seems like those first few days or weeks will last indefinitely. That baby stage goes on and on, and you are sure that of course you won’t forget a moment of it. But then it ends, and many of those memories fade to black as a new stage begins. There is so much I love about parenting; one thing I do NOT love and that nothing could have prepared me for was the quickness of it all: the birthdays that pile up and the milestones that speed by and the little of-the-moment habits and quirks and mannerisms and preferences that are always changing and too quickly forgotten.
The speediness of your growing is especially palpable with this, your fourth birthday, as your brother was four when you were born; in fact, he turned four just weeks before we discovered you two were on the way! He seemed so old to me then, almost too old to be welcoming younger siblings into the mix. On your fourth birthday, you both seem younger, somehow; still, I know that time is marching on. I will probably never make peace with my inability to bottle up every age and stage to be revisited and reappreciated at some later date. But I will also never stop trying to preserve every memory, celebrating and savoring each moment with you.
You both have grown so much in the past year! Not only are you literally growing like weeds, you have acquired huge vocabularies, gained independence and maturity, and acquired a sureness to your movements, speech, and interpersonal skills. Since turning three, you switched over to forward-facing carseats; transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed (which you still share, even though you are close to outgrowing it); and finished potty training (we’ve even gotten rid of the pull-ups at night, woohoo!). You can dress yourselves and help out with chores around the house, participate in much of the school day with Charleston and me, and figure out all sorts of new things on your own. You are great at counting and can recognize quite a few letters and numbers, and you are able to follow along with our lessons and read-alouds.
One marked difference between you and Charleston at this age is your ability to entertain yourselves—something that has happened out of necessity, now that my time is split between three kids. You will play on your own for hours, sometimes side-by-side but mostly together. You have fantastic imaginations and engage in a lot of role play (I often come into the room to find you playing family or animals or classroom). You love building forts and train tracks with Charleston and playing hide-and-seek with him and Daddy. When the weather is nice, you enjoy scootering and riding your tricycles, swinging and playing on the playground, and jumping on the trampoline. You both love going to the pool and are doing great in your gymnastics classes: Kali is the more natural gymnast, but Sully’s enthusiasm is unrivaled. Other favorite pastimes include coloring (Kali is our conscientious colorer, Sully is all about speed); reading books (Kali analyzes ever page, studying each character and scene, while Sully races through the pages); playing games (you are both obsessed with Memory matching games and are amazing at them!); watercoloring and other crafts; hunting for snail shells, rocks, and leaves; and racing around on your ride-along airplanes.
It’s so fascinating to watch your personalities develop, seeing you grow into some new traits and shed others. Just when I think I have you figured out, you change! I’m often asked which of you is needier or more dominant or (enter other quality here) and the answer is always different. Your emotional development is not linear and is not in sync; sometimes Kali is more prone to outbursts or tantrums, other times it is Sully (you are rarely in a challenging phase at the same time, you seem to take turns). You both have moments of extreme sweetness, or complacency, or obedience, and you both have times when you need extra attention or firmer boundaries. In general, you are both pretty fantastic kids; of course we have our challenges—bickering over toys, arguing over who is touching/refusing to touch who, disagreeing over who gets which seat and what song to play in the car and which book to read next—but you are also very thoughtful towards each other and towards others. You get along well with other kids and almost never act out in public. I never worry that you will misbehave when I drop you off at church or Bible study or the babysitting room at the gym. My only complaint is that other people rarely believe me when I tell them you aren’t *always* such angels!
I can’t write a birthday letter without acknowledging another perpetual source of fascination about you: your twinness! I have wondered how the dynamic between you would change as you got older, and if anything you are closer than ever. You play more directly with each other now and are always looking out for one another. I love listening in on your pillow talk at bedtime: you tell jokes and recount the day and ask and answer questions. You don’t have any “twin speak” that I can detect, but you definitely mimic certain words and mannerisms. At home you are usually together, though not always; but whenever we are out, you are practically inseparable. You hold hands walking into a classroom, stand next to each other at gymnastics, and are always playing together when I pick you up at the gym or church. I’ve worried you would become too dependent on each other, but on the occasions when you are on your own (like when one of you is home sick), you’ve done great! I love that you have a built-in best friend in each other, but that you are confident in your individuality, too. And while you get along better with each other than Charleston, you continue to adore your big brother and it’s totally mutual. You three have the best time together and thankfully the two of you are pretty good about letting him take the lead in your playtime since he is certainly most comfortable in that role!
As your mom, nothing brings me greater joy than seeing you grow in your understanding and love of Jesus! You both know and love God and talk about Him so naturally. You have memorized numerous verses and learned many Bible stories, and seem to understand what you are learning. You also are fantastic prayers; you pour your hearts out to God, making requests and sharing your feelings in the most tender ways. It is an honor to see the seeds of faith flourishing within you and I just can’t wait to see what God has in store for both of you.
Sullivan, we usually say “ladies first” around here, but as the older twin by one minute it seems fitting that you are first up with this four-year-old birthday update. Where do I begin, Sweet Boy? You are an absolute DELIGHT! You are a huge people pleaser and are always making us laugh: you are the family clown, and you relish your own silliness. You are a goofball with a contagious smile and the quirkiest sense of humor. Along with that people-pleasing comes an eagerness to do things correctly and a stubbornness when things don’t go your way. You can be extremely sensitive, and it is difficult for you to settle down when you get worked up. You have a competitive spirit and love to win—games, races, and other tasks you feel you should be best at.
Historically, you’ve been my most talkative child, and though Kali has started to catch up, you are still our lead question-asker and commentator. You have a broad vocabulary, so it’s a little ironic that you are the twin taking speech lessons (to address your lisp—and you are making great progress!), but you love the one-on-one attention of your speech lessons and are good about practicing during the week. Your favorite topic of discussion? Paw Patrol! You rarely get to watch the show itself, but all of your favorite toys and books are Paw Patrol-themed. You’re also pretty into all the boyish things, like inappropriate noises and racing cars and shooting toy guns. You are always watching Daddy and Charlie, taking cues for what “bigger boys” do. When they were on a camping trip last weekend, you told me you were so happy to be in charge as the man of the house. Kali and I were in great hands!
How old are you turning? Four (holds up four fingers).
What is your favorite color? Red, orange, and blue (counted off on three fingers).
What is your favorite book? Paw Patrol.
What is your favorite movie? Paw Patrol?
What is your favorite song? Paw Patrol! (laughing)
What do you like to eat? Pizza … dessert … suckers for dessert.
What is your favorite game? Mario and the candy game (a memory matching game).
What things do you like to do for fun? Play with new toys, and I like to do Paw Patrol things, and go in snow and throw snowballs, and losing your eyeball and you can’t see anything (laughing).
What are you really good at? Playing baseball and winning, and playing soccer ball and I winned!
What makes you happy? Not getting hurt, and staying in love. (Me: who are you in love with?) Sully: God. It mean’s God’s supposed to stay in my heart and not get hurt!
What is something that makes you laugh? Being silly. (continuing in a baby “silly” voice) I need to go poopoo when I laugh!
What makes you scared? A monster eating me, going in a monster’s mouth without Mommy and Daddy if he eats me.
What makes you sad? Giving spankings to somebody who’s not my friend.
Where do you live? In Liberty Hill.
Where do you want to live when you grow up? Liberty Hill and, uh, living in a bear house.
What do you want to be when you grow up? My job? Working on stuff on my ipad. (Pointing to my laptop, where I was writing down answers:) Why do you push those buttons when me and Kali say questions?
Who is your best friend? Lynnie and Lanyo … Shayden … and Collin … and Sidney … and Turning Three and Turning Four and Turning Six!
Where is some place you would like to go? Menchie’s to eat ice cream!
If you could have anything for your birthday, what would it be? A Paw Patrol car for me to ride on.
Tell me what you know about God. That God loves you and us.
What is the best part of the day? Going to a movie theater.
What is your favorite part of the week? Doing work to do, like doing Paw Patrol—I have a lot of Paw Patrol stuff to say!
What is something you really don’t like to do? Not giving me spankings and not crying.
What is something that is really challenging? Not doing something that’s wrong.
What are you most proud of? I’m very proud of God.
Tell me about Kali. She’s me!
Do you have a birthday wish for her? Giving her a card and a surprise and a present for her birthday?
Kalinda Joy, my sunshiney girl! What an absolute GIRL you are! I don’t know where all this girliness came from, but I am totally here for it, from the obsession with accessories, glitter, and all things pink, to the perfected poses (that you’ve taught yourself), practiced singing and dance routines, and even the dramatic expressions. (We could do without the sass and indulgent pouting, but I have to admit that the princess-style silently crying into your hands can be pretty darn cute.) You love being around other girls and quickly bond with them over fashion, giggling, and “girl speak”; I had no idea this sort of thing developed at such a young age!
I’ve been so proud of the maturity I have seen in you lately. You are thoughtful towards Sully, often conceding to his requests and being patient with his demands. You are quite a mama’s girl, regularly stopping your play time to come and give me snuggles and kisses. You are more cautious than your brothers in clinical settings (doctor, dentist, etc.) but are working to overcome those fears! You are one strong, confident little lady and I am so proud to have you as my daughter. I caught you gazing at your reflection in the mirror this morning, saying, “I’m just SO beautiful.” PLEASE never stop believing that is true!
How old are you turning? Five! (nodding, laughing) yeah!
What is your favorite color? Pink, all of them.
What is your favorite book? Unicorn book.
What is your favorite movie? Princess Fairy, it’s a DVD.
What is your favorite song? (Singing) Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way…
What is your favorite game? Candy Land.
What do you like to eat? Ice Cream … maybe syrup … water.
What things do you like to do for fun? Doing gymnastics, going on a unicorn, going on a horse, eating bubble gum when I’m being a mama, go outside and play on the swings and (starts cracking up) I like to goggly. . . that doesn’t mean anything, hahahaha!
What are you really good at? I’m really good at being on horses when they fly. Doing stuff that I love. I love my mama!
What makes you happy? You and God.
What is something that makes you laugh? Uh … eenomenoma (laughing, continuing to speak gibberish).
What makes you scared? Something that is lying at me—not flying at me, lying at me, like a fly or a moth lies at me.
What makes you sad? A monster, a bad dream makes me sad and I tell you, like when we went to California and I had a bad dream. Bad dreams are not very fun.
Where do you live? Liberty Hill.
Where do you want to live when you grow up? Right next to Lynnie and Lanyo, and be a bunkbed like Charlie’s and all the stuff in Charlie’s room.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Have a computer like Charlie
Who is your best friend? All of them. Lynnie and Lanyo and a best friend at a playground, I don’t know her name—maybe it’s a neighbor or somethin’.
Where is some place you would like to go? Menchie’s and a donut place.
If you could have anything for your birthday, what would it be? A diamond, a really really really cute diamond that’s like this big (holds up open palm).
Tell me what you know about God. Obeying Him. Say oh-BEY-ing GOD. (Waits for me to repeat.) Yeah, that.
What is the best part of the day? Ice cream day.
What is your favorite part of the week? Flower day.
What is something you really don’t like to do? Don’t go on the bird’s tail and eat me.
What is something that is really challenging? Something that’s mean.
What are you most proud of? I’m proud of my playground out there (pointing to our yard).
Tell me about Sully. He’s really nice.
Do you have a birthday wish for him? I wish he could have a ponytail.
Kali and Sully, I have to say that your interview answers cracked me up and surprised me! I did my best not to fact check you or prompt certain responses, and it was both fun and funny to watch you each engage with the questions. There have been SO MANY fun and funny moments with you in the past year! And many more await us in this year to come.
Kalinda Joy and Sullivan Luke, I hope you never doubt that I will love you always and forever, with all my heart. Happiest of birthdays! Thanks for letting me celebrate another year of YOU!