Birthday Letter: 8

(Letter was begun on April 30 and finished on May 3)

Dear Lucas,

It’s only a day until your 8th birthday. You are over the moon with excitement. I think perhaps no child has ever anticipated any birthday as much as you have this one. You cannot wait to be 8! As the youngest child in your class, you have watched all of your friends turn 8 already. A couple of them have already turned 9. I’m sorry, dear one, but it may always be this way for you. It might be hard to be the youngest child sometimes, and might sometimes feel not fair, but I don’t worry about you much. Your charisma and joyful attitude make you beloved by all. And you would not have wanted to wait to start school another year! Your mind is racing ahead of your age in almost every way, there was no way we could have held you back.

Friday Afternoon Chess

So many exciting things are happening in your life now. I can see you are so eager to find out what’s next, what new opportunity is coming your way. I can see that you’re maturing, becoming more comfortable in your body and in your roles as student, brother, and as helping, cooperative son.

Sometimes I look at you and my love for you just pours out of me, and washes over you, I hope, wherever you are. I wonder if you can tell when I’m feeling this way. Sometimes I catch your eye and rather than make a big scene, I just wink. In that tiny moment, when you smile and wink back, I see that you know you are loved. The moments when you happily hold my hand in public, when you approach me and throw your arms around my middle and bury your face in my chest, when you snuggle up to me and tell me how much you love me—these are miracles every time, in part because they are coming a little less often than before. And I gobble these moments up like chocolates, try to fill myself with them, as if for a coming famine.

We had to strike a deal recently. You were angry with me, complaining that I was treating you too much like a baby. “You never let me do ___,” you accused. We were butting heads: you wanting more independence, me seeing you taking risks and acting wild and wanting to corral you. A friend of mine suggested a solution and so far it has worked. One day a week now you are picked up from school extra late, like at 5 or 5:30 in the evening. You want this extra time to play with your friends who are in aftercare. You want more freedom. In exchange, you must be better about coming with me at pickup time, without argument or hassle. I’m grateful my friend suggested this deal, this privilege. I was caught up in old patterns of thinking—feeling guilty for all the time we don’t spend together, wanting to gather you up at the end of your day, as if to apologize for all the time I’m working. But you are ready for more, for new experiences and new challenges. Your dad and I respect that.

You are doing well in school. Your reading is coming along nicely and you’ve been really into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, which I have mixed feelings about. On the plus side, you’re excited about them and practicing reading. Once in a while we wake up and find you reading on the couch with the light on, having risen before the rest of us. That is nothing short of a miracle, in more ways than one. On the downside, I think the content of these books is a little old for you. In math, you are learning to add multiple-digit numbers and the new task is to figure out the process of carrying the one to the next place when adding columns of numbers. One paper that came home recently clearly indicated that you don’t understand this yet. I found myself in the astonishing position of 1) having you sit with me in an open, receptive mood, while we worked through the confusing problems together, and 2) teaching you MATH! Not my best subject, but second-grade math is OK. Next year? Not so sure how much help I’ll be. Your confidence in math is a little low right now. At one point, you told me that a buddy of yours is “Way smarter than me.” Au contraire, my son. I hope I reassured you.

Let’s see… I think your favorite school subjects are gardening, movement, German, and language arts. Gardening at school has inspired you to have your own vegetable patch here at home. In fact, you sacrificed half of your precious digging hill to plant tomatoes, a cucumber, a watermelon, rainbow chard, corn and pumpkins. It’s a lot packed into a small area, but for now it looks modest. We left a little space just for digging. And you carefully made rows in the rest, amending the soil a bit before planting your plants and seeds. I fervently hope this garden grows well for you. We have plans to make a little fence around it.

Part of you is fascinated by the idea of homeschooling, but I know in real life you would miss your friends terribly if we took you out of school. Plus, homeschooling is not always about playing Legos all day. We are not considering this at all. But, in deference to your interests, we may try to do a bit of “homeschooling” this summer. Perhaps some science projects, some story writing, some math and other cool games. One big project may be to build a chicken coop with Dad!

Two weeks ago you started piano lessons for the first time. You like your teacher and are excited to be learning how to play. We’re not calling it “practice time,” according to your teacher. We are calling it “playing” so that piano stays fun for you. I hope this is something that you’ll fall in love with.

You have been doing a lot more cooking lately, usually with Dad and often to make scrambled eggs in the morning. You two get along so well—most of the time. I’m hoping you might get a kids’ cookbook for your birthday so we can all explore this together. You’ve already made mozzarella cheese, after all! We did this all together a couple of months ago and it was totally fun! Today you made spinach sandwiches for Asher and yourself, and used the stove to make celery soup. You’re considering creating your own recipe book, using only recipes you invent yourself.

Baker's Assistant

Let’s talk about sticks for a moment. My word! Where do you find them all? It seems like I’m constantly wondering where they come from and how come I never noticed them before. They are the world’s most perfect toy, apparently for any age between 1 and … well, 8 at least. Trouble is, sticks are devious little things, for they tempt you (and Asher) into highly rambunctious sword fighting, and all other martial arts. Occasionally I get fed up with the wacking-with-sticks play and confiscate them, removing them to the green waste bin. And then, twenty minutes later, your hands are full of more sticks!

Asher is now a proper playmate for you much of the time. He mimics your every word and move. It’s quite adorable when you’re both behaving well. You play pretend “battles” with “powers,” which involves a lot of running, jumping, dramatic magical gesturing and many, many sound effects with spitting. It’s better than actual hitting most of the time. You both get carried away, though, and you both take great pleasure in winding each other up into states of ire and violence, especially if sticks are involved. “He hit me!” “Asher, NO!” The bickering is perfectly normal.

What I love, however, is when I find you and Asher sitting together on the couch, arms around each other, or cuddled up in bed together at night. Sometimes I catch you reading to Asher and my heart just melts. I see you guide him in parking lots, offering your hand as protection from passing cars. You greet him with a giant, feet-off-the-ground-swing-around hug at the end of the school day. You brag to your friends about how cool your little brother is. You tell Asher that he is your buddy, that he’s adorable, and that you’re best friends. These are moments we, as your parents, cherish.

Gorgeous Big Boy: NEW BIKE! 7:00 a.m. Bike Ride

And now, it’s two days after your birthday, May 3, 2010. You seem perfectly satisfied with the fuss we made over your turning 8, and frankly, so am I. What a wonderful weekend it was! We had a great time roller-skating at Sunrise Rollerland with your friends. You are a determined roller-skater, and although you fell down often, you kept getting up, your resolve never flagging. I admire your stubborn perseverance; I think it’s a quality that will serve you well in life. You seem delighted with all of your gifts: new craft projects, science kits, books, Legos, modeling clay, BIKE, game, model, and much more! I’m thrilled to see you riding your new bike—it is probably the coolest bike I’ve ever seen (complete with skull art) and it’s your favorite color (which is back to blue these days after having cycled through red and green).

You shared your birthday with two special events at school: the 50th anniversary of Sacramento Waldorf School and the May Day Festival, which was on the 2nd. This just carried you along on a wave of celebration and delight, allowing you tons of extra time to range and roam with your school buddies and to have lots of fun. I like how much you now seem to own the school campus. It’s your turf and you’re comfortable there. It was such a great weekend; I hope it was everything you wished for.

Lucas, we love you. We are so proud of you. Happy 8th birthday, my love!


4 Responses to “Birthday Letter: 8”

  • jaleen
    May 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

    thank you for sharing these letters, i absolutely adore them. i’m pining for you and your family — can i see you soon?


  • Sara
    May 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks, sweetheart. I’d love to see you soon. I have a birthday coming up, you know … no plans yet, but it’s probably time to think of something.


  • Liz
    May 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I love how you sprinkle really evocative photos in among your descriptions. Makes me feel like I’m there, hanging out with you guys instead of 3 hours away.

    Yay for 8! (My nephew Ben just turned 8 too!) Yay for Sunrise Rollerland, also my childhood playground! Yay for gardening and bicycling and the tug of war between protectiveness and independence… *sigh*

    Maybe someday I will have a little one and will look to you and other good mamas I know for advice. In the mean time though, I’m glad I have so many little ones to whom I can be a virtual, long-distance, or vicarious auntie…

    Warms my heart to see how deeply you cherish them. Wonderful words.


  • Sara
    May 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for reading, dear Liz! The photos are another hobby I love. And thank you for being a virtual, long-distance auntie. I think kids need all the fans they can get. xoxo


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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