January 23, 2012
As I write this letter you are nearly five years old. You are upstairs in bed, chatting with your brother about paper airplanes and being a knight when you grow up. You are growing and changing so much lately. I love and hate it at the same time! It makes me realize I should capture some of the spirit of your childhood in words. And so I am writing you a proper letter for the first time.
Evan, you are such a magical boy. Your dad and I spend a lot of time smiling and chatting in the evenings about things you have said and done throughout the day. You have such an interesting perspective on life. Your artwork captures a little of the way you see the world around you – bright colours, interesting lines and lots of creativity. You are not interested in colouring books or prescribed activities. You love to do your own thing – creating mazes, building suits of armor from old cardboard boxes, folding intricate paper airplanes and drawing stories from your life. When you finish a drawing we never ask, “What is it?” because that question tends to leave you tongue-tied. Instead we say, “Tell me about it.” and then we usually hear something amazing. After your dad and I read you Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you drew some incredible pictures. They are so interesting and unique that I don’t want to show you the movie – your imagination is much better. In fact your ideas are sometimes so incredible that you get frustrated when you can’t get them to work – like making a castle out of blocks that’s so big and tall you can live in it (we only have so many blocks!).
You have liked music since you were a little baby. When you were very tiny you used to have a hard time and cry a lot so I used to cuddle you up in my arms and dance around the house with you to loud pop music. This almost always made you feel better. You started dancing in your exersaucer when you were just seven months old and you have not stopped! You often request a “dance party” and love it when we turn up the music and clear the toys away so we can all dance around the dining room. Noelle takes after you in this way. Sometimes your dad plays the guitar or piano for you, which you love. You often accompany him with your harmonica or some homemade percussion instrument. I have a feeling you’ll play the guitar one day or maybe the piano. We’ll wait and see. The first week of kindergarten you came home and taught us all a song called “Let the Merry Sunshine In”. You knew all the words and although I am not sure if you got the tune right, we have adopted it and we sing this song together all the time. Your Dad and I love to hear your little singing voice. It’s actually very beautiful.
In September you started kindergarten. It was an emotional time for me as your mum. On one hand I was so proud of you and very exited about you starting school. I used to be a kindergarten teacher and I adore everything about this special time of life, so I had really high hopes that you would fall in love with school. But at the same time I was a little sad that you were growing up. Even though you are four years old, tall and strong, talkative and smart, you are still my six-pound-two-ounce baby boy. Sometimes when I look at you I can’t believe you’ve been with me nearly five years already, but other times I can’t imagine that there was a time before you arrived! It’s as if you just got here, yet you’ve always been here. It’s hard for me to explain and if you’re reading this before you have your own children you may not understand.
You love going to school each day and do wonderful art projects there. Your teacher is a kind person and tells me cute stories about graphs you make (you seem to love graphing!) and “writer’s workshop” pieces you create. We thought long and hard about whether we should request separate classes for you and James and in the end we decided we’d try each of you in your own class. You seem to be thriving and it’s wonderful to hear you sharing stories of your morning. In a way, being apart has brought you two closer together. You have a couple of hours each day to do your own thing and recharge your batteries, and when you get back together you are refreshed and glad to see each other and you get along well. Noelle spends the whole morning waiting for you and runs to hug and kiss you when we come to school to pick you up. Evan, she idolizes you.
Your connection with James is something special to see. As a parent, it’s wonderful to see the similarities and differences between two boys the exact same age, going through all the phases of life together. You have some things in common, but also your own unique talents, preferences, opinions and strengths. You seem to be more competitive than James. Sometimes this motivates you and sometimes it frustrates you. Being a twin has been beneficial to you in many ways. You share well, you negotiate and reason, you try to compromise and you think of others’ feelings – I think it has a lot to do with sharing time, space, things and attention with James. Your dad and I decided before you were born that we would not push any special responsibilities or expectations on you just because you were a twin. We hoped a bond would form between you and your brother, but we try very hard to let it evolve naturally. In fact, for the first few years of your life you didn’t even realize you were a twin! I remember one lady on the subway asking you and James if you were twins. You replied, “James is, but I’m not.” We laughed about that! Fortunately for us, you and James care about each other deeply and naturally. Of course you argue and sometimes you feel jealous or frustrated about something James is doing. But your brother adores you and goes out his way to make sure you are happy. We love to see you two sharing a secret or laughing about something funny in a book or on TV. In a lot of ways, you have a serious, intense personality, Evan. But when you laugh, you really laugh. You light up the whole house with your giggle! It is probably my favourite sound in the whole world.
I’d like to tell you some of the things you enjoy doing, aside from art and music. You go to gymnastics class once a week with James. You smile the whole time so I guess you love it! Noelle and I go too, to a kinderclass that happens at the same time. Whenever you see me across the gym you call my name and send me a wave and sometimes blow me a kiss. You took skating lessons earlier this winter and you made great progress in a really short time. Your dad took you and James to a local arena the other night and he said you’re getting really confident! Next winter I am going to get some skates and learn so I can skate with you. I can’t wait! Noelle will be old enough to try by then so we’ll all learn together. You like swimming and I hope you can take lessons again in the spring. You are hilarious when you swim at the cottage because you like to wear a life jacket, water wings AND a ring around your middle. There is no chance you’ll sink! You spend most of your time drawing, running, imagining, building with blocks (you love these connecting blocks called Trio), and listening to stories. In the spring and summer, you spend every moment you can on your bike. Your dad and I think you’re a great athlete and a particularly good cyclist.
As often as we can, your dad and I try to spend a little time alone with you. You’re very cute because you always say, “Mum, isn’t this nice? Just the two of us?” even if we’re just going to the grocery store. Although we love spending time with you, James and Noelle together, both your dad and I realize that you’re your own person and you need to connect with us individually. Every day we share cuddles, stories and whispers, but once in a while we get to do something special without your brother or sister. I think I should plan an activity for you and I again soon.
Well, Evan this is just a little glimpse into your life at age four years and ten months. There is so much to tell about you – about how you can’t decide whether to be an astronaut or a knight or a secret agent when you grow up, about how you love honey so much I think you must be part bear, about how you have the loveliest brown eyes with little flecks of green…I could go on forever. Mostly I’d like to say how fortunate I feel to be your mom. The other day you gave me a big hug and said, “Mum, aren’t you so lucky to have me?” I laughed and squeezed you tight. It’s true. I am very lucky.
P.S. I hope by the time you read this you like tomatoes and cooked green vegetables.