Monday, August 24, 2015

Say Goodbye to Your Perfect World

A letter for my three-year-old son written as if he were a rational 30-year-old man.

Son, I want you to know that even though you've got a new brother arriving in a few months you'll always be our special little guy. 

I've loved you since before you were born. 

Thanks to a complicated pregnancy, your mother and I got twice-weekly looks at you via ultrasound. It was a two-hour drive from our home to that ultrasound but it was worth every mile to see you. 

You're forgiven if you thought this revolved around you.
We watched you grow from the size of a bean to the three-plus feet you are today and every inch has been pure joy. From the moment I first heard you cry when you entered this world, you've owned my heart. 

I feel no pain greater than the pain you feel. There are few prospects I dread more than the prospect of anything less than the best happening to you. 

In my every waking moment since you arrived, I've tried to be better in every way I know how. 

More patient. More tolerant. Less swearing. More sensitive. Less cynical. More patient. Less sarcastic. More mature. More considerate. Less impulsive. More patient (that's not a typo. I've got a real issue with patience).

In doing so, I've partnered with your mom to make your world as comfortable as it makes sense to make it. 

We make sure the cuffs of your pants aren't too high. That your shoes aren't too tight. That the elastic waistband on your underwear isn't folded over and chafing you. We wipe your nose. We make — and remake — your dinner. We take you to the park. We stop what we're watching whenever you ask to watch something else. 

If we're in the middle of a song and you ask to "start over," we do it. (Honestly, I don't know how many times I've heard the first 30 seconds of a song over and over and over and over and over.)

We make sure you've got the particular blanket you need every, single night at bed time. That you've got your plush turtle that shines a constellation from its shell. That you've got your Mickey Mouse Nightlight. 

If you want bubbles in your bath, by God, you get them. 

If you want letters to play with, you get them. If you want another bowl of Froot Loops, you get that too. If you want to read another book, it gets read. 

The world is yours my boy and it's been our pleasure to help make it that way. 

It is therefore my sad, solemn duty to tell you that this amazing world we've made for you, this beautiful, perfect, little Master Blackwell world, is over. 

Done like so many of the dinners you refused to eat. 

Gone, like the good nights' sleep your mother and I used to enjoy. 

Over like the many fun dates your mom and I used to go on. 

Withered and dried up, like my tolerance for new music.

You see son, you're about to get the greatest gift of all, a brother. And, like any great gift, or anything worth having, when something is gained, something else is lost.

You're about to learn some new values and acquire a new set of virtues. Your mother and I could teach you these things but, nothing will be as effective as this.

You're going to learn that the first 3.5 years of your life have been, in many ways, one giant tease.

You'll learn the value of sharing — not just toys either. The value of sharing your time, of sharing attention, of sharing success and, yes, of sharing blame and responsibility.

You're getting a teammate, a buddy that you'll have for the rest of your life. He'll be the only person who understands just how truly nuts your father is. You two will bond over this fact and, even if you have nothing else in common, this will hold you two together no matter what the world throws at you.

You're also getting an occasional adversary, the likes of which you'll never encounter elsewhere. He'll know all of your weak spots and you'll know all of his but, because your brothers, you won't exploit them.

You'll sneak in and dump a cup of ice-cold water on him when he's having a warm shower.

He'll draw on your face with a marker if you fall asleep before him. You'll tie his shoes together and you'll tell him that the brown stuff on the ground is chocolate and he should try it.

When you grow up, there's going to be times you hear something funny that makes you think of your brother. You'll chuckle to yourself because you know that no one else would be tickled by this joke the way you are, except your brother.

When you're older, you'll realize that sharing like this makes life's moments richer and having a brother means having someone to share with — always.

In the tough moments, you'll find strength and motivation from one another. You'll push each other to be better, and not just in a competitive light.

So, you're losing a lot to be sure.

But, my son, you're gaining so, so much more. 

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