To my son, on his fifth birthday
Editorial Note: My oldest child turned five on April 23, 2020. That afternoon, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker made the announcement that schools would continue with distance learning for the remainder of the school year. This post was primarily composed that evening, with editing and final thoughts added on May 8. 2020.
Oh, Huddy Buddy.
Each year, when your birthday comes around, I always think that I never would have imagined how life would change for us all over the next year.
I didn't know how much joy you would bring to our lives in that first year of your life.
I didn't imagine that Daddy would be upgrading to captain for the first time just before your second birthday, and that we would finally be financially comfortable.
I didn't imagine that between your second and third birthdays, we would take in a third cat, move cross country, make you a big brother, and have Daddy start a new job.
I didn't imagine that we would spend your fourth year settling in to Minnesota life so quickly.
And now, we celebrate your fifth year in the midst of a pandemic. I definitely didn't imagine this.
You've grown so much this year. You started preschool at a local elementary school in September. You love to learn and share your new knowledge with us. Your teachers have told us you are definitely as smart we as thought - maybe even smarter than we realize. There are things you struggle with, and we have been working on those with your teachers this spring.
You have gained so much empathy this past year. You worry about others, especially your classmates with unique challenges. You need hugs and kisses all day long, and you tell me you love me often. You have so much love to give, and I can tell our current situation has made it tough for you to find outlets for all that love.
I hope that when I describe our current situation, it is a distant memory for you. I hope you think of this as "that one year I couldn't have a birthday party because there was a virus." I hope you remember the family and friends who had parties at their own houses because you were so worried about them not getting cake for your birthday.
I hope you look back on this and remember that it was the spring that there wasn't school, but your teachers sent videos and stopped by the house and let you know over and over again that they love you, they miss you, and they wish they could be teaching you in person again.
I hope you remember that Daddy was home more, so he started teaching you how to play the Pokemon card game, and that I took you for walks along the lake to play Pokemon Go.
Most of all, I hope that you don't look back on this spring and think of it as the start of the "new normal" because this is not normal, and it never will feel like normal. I hope that in the next year, the necessary changes will take place, and that we will look back on your sixth year with profound gratitude for how far we were able to come in moving beyond the pandemic and back into truly normal life.
I love you, Huddy Buddy, and I am so proud of you.
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