Today you start kindergarten. I’m astonished, in a way both cliched and powerful, that we are here.
For three years you didn’t say much of anything. Your first preschool teacher, in fact, urged us to have you evaluated by a speech therapist. She even gently suggested that you might have cognitive delays. Within months your speech therapist (an adorable blonde woman that you thought was fabulous) had you talking a blue streak, and within weeks she had ascertained that there was definitely nothing cognitive going on. You do speak with a distinctive accent, which we like to joke is from Pawtucket. You may not have spoken for three years, but you haven’t stopped since.
You say the funniest, most observant things, often causing me to pull over to jot them down for posterity (or use on this blog). You, Whit, are just downright hilarious. I’m not sure where that came from, since neither your Dad nor I is particularly funny. But you make me laugh out loud every single day, which is an enormous gift.
This was the summer you really became comfortable in the water. You can reliably – though inelegantly – swim laps and stay afloat for a long time (which is kind of amazing because you have no body fat and generally sink like a stone). In June you decided you wanted to learn how to dive and you have. The way you hurtle yourself off a diving board is a good metaphor for the unbridled enthusiasm and fearlessness you bring to life. You shout, “I’m going!” to make sure all around you are watching and then you take off at a run, not even hesitating before plunging into the water. I’ve yet to meet a diving board high enough to give you pause.
You love Legos and robots and trucks. You are always looking to understand how things work. As a three year old you crept under the toilet, put your hand on the pipe after flushing, and said to me, awestruck, “There’s water running here, Mummy!” And just last week at Basin Harbor I couldn’t find you for a minute on the beach. I finally noticed you crouching near one of the paddleboats, looking underneath it, trying to understand how it moved and steered. I am eager to watch where this curiosity takes you, and hope I will always nourish it, even when being asked “why …” every three minutes all day long gets old.
Whit, you are the definition of marching to your own drummer. One evening this summer I went in to kiss you goodnight to see that you had stripped down and were sleeping naked on the floor, lying flat on your back on top of the sleeping bag that you’d found in the closet, with your small fan blowing right on your face. Decked out in mardi gras beads this summer after Magic Night with Hadley and family, you announced from the back seat of the car, “I could be an international pop star with all of this jewelry!” Where you learned that I have no idea.
Your presence in my life pushes and challenges me every single day. We see the world so differently, Whit, you and I. You approach every day as a wide open canvas, never assume that there are limits until you physically meet them, and need to have the reason for rules proven to you before you follow them. You inspire me, in this way, because the automatic way I stoop before authority has held me back so much in my life. Where I see a closed door, you see a hurdle to find your way around. You are wily and bright and as a baby we called you Houdini for the infinite ways you found to wriggle out of your pajamas and then your crib. I tried everything, eventually winding up with too-small footie pjs on backward with the feet cut off and a crib tent with the zipper carabinered to the side of the crib.
Two years ago I wrote a letter to Grace on her first day of kindergarten. Reading it always makes me cry. Now here I am, even more sentimental, even more raw, surprised once again at the speed with which the days pass by. You, the baby who healed so much for me, whose arrival showed me I could fall in love with a newborn, who made me believe that maybe, just maybe, I was cut out to be a mother after all. You, who gave back to me all that I missed the first time around. You aren’t easy, Whit, with your stubborn outbursts and steadfast refusal to accept “because I said so” as a reason. But it is so worth it. I learn so much from you. You make me question so many of the things I’ve always taken for granted, and watching you operate in the world both bewilders and dazzles me. You are so immensely sweet at your core, and so, so funny: this morning I woke up to a soft kiss on my cheek and turned to see you standing there in your pajamas and sunglasses, cocking your finger at me and smiling, as though to say “Hi there, lady!”
Happy first day, Whit. I am so excited for you about all of the adventures that lie ahead, and I know I’ll never, ever stop laughing as I travel them alongside you. I’m so grateful to be your mother.
I love you.