#OhMichael, Age 7

Dear Michael,

When people found out I was pregnant with a boy, I got a lot of “just waits.” I was assured that boys were very different from girls, of which I already had two.

But I had a girl, and I had a KATE. I questioned how much more rambunctious a boy could be than his irrepressible soon-to-be big sister.
It turns out it’s more a matter of style than degree.

You are a little more physically active, a little less able to sit still, than the energetic, outgoing Kate. You are sweet and open and affectionate; you talk CONSTANTLY; and *usually* you are very self-assured. You have a very active imagination, and you can play by yourself or with others for hours, inside the house with action figures or outside in the yard with a stick.

When given the choice, you will wrestle and play with Kate. When not, especially if you’ve already been wrestling/playing with her, you will sulk, and then go on on your own.

Let’s talk about that sitting still thing for a hot minute. You don’t have any problems in school. You’ve been a slow reader, but I don’t think it’s because you can’t read. You like the straight-ahead facts of math, and are picking it up quickly. Your spelling is improving, although your handwriting is not.

But dinner time is a challenge for you. You take a bite, and jump up. On the plus side, you are a great eater, although you wouldn’t know it to look at you, my little string bean. But you really cannot keep your butt in your seat through a meal. For that matter, watching TV is not your strong point either. You are on the move.

And: it’s fine. I will try to do better and be less annoyed.

You love to laugh. You have strong emotions. You don’t like when things don’t go your way, just like every other child in the world, you can respond with anger, tears, or both.

You are… particular. As in, you prefer things a particular way. An egg sandwich has to be made just so. You like routine, which is something I find ironic because as a baby, you just went from place to place with us. You like information, and you like to know what’s next. Maybe that is a direct response to being dragged around as a baby when we had stuff to do.

You depend on your sisters, but you also needlessly antagonize them. I do believe the latter is part of the job description “Little Brother.” You and Kate are probably a little closer temperamentally than you and Flora, and so I think you prefer Kate. You love hanging out with Daddy, and whenever a project is afoot, you know your role: Stand-by guy. This means when Daddy tells you to fetch, hold, or carry something, you are there to do it.

But my favorite thing about you, little buddy, is how affectionate you are and continue to be. You will give hugs any time, in love, comfort, or gratitude. You say, “Thank you” to me often, even sometimes for little stuff like stopping for ice cream. You require Daddy snuggles at bedtime, and will wait up for them if you can.

You are my best boy. Keep growing, keep going, keep loving.

Happy birthday, Michael.


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