For the last few years it's been a birthday tradition of sorts for me to write you, but I have to say this year it feels a little odd to write instead of, I don't know, just telling you what I think when I see you.
"Louis! It's so weird that you're 4! I'm 32! Can you believe it?! It seems like just yesterday we were not these ages!"
You would just stare rather impatiently at me.
But if I said the heartfelt stuff too, like how much I enjoy watching you grow and how proud I am of you you would just say, "Yes, I know." Since the time you could walk I would ask you, "Louis, come here please, I need to tell you something." and when I'd get you on my lap I'd say, "I just needed to tell you that I love you." and you'd hop off and away. This was the first year that when I told you I had something to tell you you walked over and replied "I know, you love me."
"Well, yes that." I conceded, "Also I needed to tell you that I think you're really smart."
Your brain is a little sponge that hears all and then regurgitates things we've said and other things you've heard back to us. You pick up on the things we want you to hear and probably some we don't. You hold us to our promises and remind us of our inconsistencies. You are at this incredible place between a boy and a toddler. Sometimes conversations with you can feel like you're practically in college and then the next minute you're in an uncontrollable fit of tears over something as silly as juice.
It's fascinating, and fun, well the conversation parts are anyway. A few weeks ago I picked you up to take you to the farmers market and the book store but it was Sunday and I very foolishly didn't pay attention to when the book store would be open. It was closed when we got there and I was frantically trying to think of what to do for an hour with such a young kid. I explained to you that the store wouldn't be open for a while and you gave me a minute to minute recount of a time this same thing had happened to you with Grandma and Grandpa. You explained that in a while a man would come with a key and we would be free to enter. Sounded good to me, but in the mean time I wasn't sure how you'd fair. We walked a few blocks to a near by park, but it was crazy hot that day so the slides and swings were too warm to touch. You played for a bit but then came and sat with me in the shade under a tree. I got out a pen and small pad of paper from my purse and you drew pictures for a good long while which is one of my favorite things to watch you do because the narration of your tales and drawings are the most fun ever.
"This is the momma bunny and these are the babies in her tummy."
"This is a fairy and these are her wings."
I didn't hear one peep of complaint from you all morning and after a while we walked back down to the ice cream place and then the book store that was now open and we read all the fairy books and all the halloween books we could get our hands on.
Then there are your growing cooking skills. One day shortly after our garden behind my house started to fill in you came over with your mom and we made pesto together and put it on pizzas for dinner. For all the times we had talked about the garden during preparation and planting you had mentioned that I would need a basket.
"A basket?" I asked
"Yes, for to put the vegetables in so they don't get dirty."
You must have seen somewhere the image of someone picking things from a garden and putting them in a basket, it's not uncommon, so the evening we made pesto I had to quickly stop at the dollar store on the way home and get two small baskets. You were pumped. We took them out to the garden and picked basil, spinach and parsley for our pesto and at one point you turned and whispered to me quietly,
"I like this place."
And I thought that I could just die right then because life couldn't get much better than that. You and I in the garden we made happily picking food to cook with.
Lou you were the best three year old our family could ask for, we can't wait for the age of four.
I love you very much Louis, no doubt about it. Happy birthday to us.