Once upon a time there was a Dad who had a son, a son who was the joy of his life. On one cold, November morning this Dad woke up earlier than he wanted, pulled back the bedroom curtains and squinted at the bright sunlight. Then he began moving about his home, coffee in hand, tidying up the place in anticipation of a visit. This was a special morning, for today was his son’s fourth birthday.
As he walked around his quiet house, he thought about all of the adventures he had experienced with his son during the past year: breakfasts at their favorite cafe, swings and slides at the park, an amazing summer of chalk art and bikes and baseball in the street, a trip to Canada, pizzas and burgers and candy and coloring.
Evidence of all of those moments could be seen about the house. There were pencils and crayons and papers on the coffee table. Drawings and writing from a child who is just learning to read letters and to write his own name. Underneath the dining room table was a small, triangular “paper football” made of a napkin ring from his favorite breakfast spot – affectionately known as “The Pancake Place“.
The baseball under the sofa reminded him of the many backyard barbecues during the summer months, and the one evening in particular when he taught his son how to throw a baseball. Once the boy got the footing right, he could hurl it with surprising accuracy.
The son’s monogrammed apron still hung over the chair where he had left it after helping Dad smash potatoes for last night’s dinner. Cooking had become an important family activity in their home and the boy’s skills were increasing rapidly. Egg cracking and pancake flipping were his favorite tasks.
Soon the Dad had tidied the house as best he could. It didn’t need to be perfect. Eventually his kids would arrive to mess it all up again and that was just fine.
After gently straightening the Spiderman pillow on his boy’s bed and tucking away the Batman reading book, Dad glanced at the clock and saw that it was still early morning. There was plenty of time before his visitor would arrive so, to pass the time, Dad sat down and wrote a letter.
My Dearest Son,
Today is the day we celebrate your fourth year in our family. This journey from three to four has been remarkable. You have grown bigger, stronger, and more intensely boy-like in every way – especially your feet. Look at those dogs…
I wish you could see yourself as I see you right now: a bright, handsome, and energetic little child who loves everything with his whole heart. That love helps me focus on all that is good and right with us during these unsteady times.
It is impossible to convey how lucky I am to have you, my sweet boy. Every day we are together is the greatest day of my life. I will always love you forever.
Happy Birthday, my Little Monkey Man, my Duncan Philip.
Dad folded the letter neatly, wrote the boy’s name on the front in blue crayon, and set it aside. Later he would put it in the blue box he used to store various keepsakes from his boy’s life; the kind of stuff he will roll his eyes at in his teens, and perhaps value in his adult years.
In the meantime, Dad waited in his quiet home, content to be right where he was. Boxes wrapped in bright colored paper and bows were stacked on the table waiting to be ripped apart. Breakfast was ready to be cracked, stirred, and flipped.
Soon there was a knock on the door. A little blond boy in a new Superman t-shirt had arrived. Dad smiled.
It was time to celebrate a birthday.