Let me start with a quick story from last week.
On Friday, you had your very first field day and yearbook day. When I found out it was yearbook day, I thought that was a really big deal. I texted your mom about it and later excitedly said to her, "We have a kid who is getting a yearbook!" She made fun of me for this and you didn't seem super-impressed either. But then we sat down and you proudly showed me your picture. Then I asked, "Can you show me your friends?" I was hoping to put faces with the handful of names I hear when I pick you up each day. Yet when I asked about your friends, you showed me the picture of every single boy and girl in your class. Everybody was your friend. That is one of a million things that I love about you and about this age you're at right now.
You are growing up in a flash. I remember holding you for the first time. You were a tiny and fragile. Now you are finishing up your first year in elementary school. You're reading books. You're learning to add and subtract. You come home and drop words like metamorphosis or share a fact that you learned about one of the presidents. It's awesome, but it's kind of scary too because I can hear the clock ticking. If we got to 6 so quickly, then what is it going to feel like when we get to 13? 18 and you going off to college? There's part of me that already wants more time.
Okay, that got somber quickly so let me turn this around. Let me tell you about you at 6. You love superheroes. You play superheroes at school with your friends. Batman is still your favorite, but you also often like to be Green Lantern. Today, because you had a birthday hat with candles on it, you decided to be Firestorm. That demonstrates that your knowledge of DC superheroes is fairly encyclopedic. Firestorm is a deep cut. That is the fault of your nerd dad.
You want to be Batman when you grow up and you want to sew, like your Mom, for your regular job. You binge watch things on Netflix. Sometimes it's Justice League and other times it's something like Clifford, the Big Red Dog. We're not really sure what to expect. You love playing hide and seek and going to the playground. You love your brother and are also fairly regularly annoyed by him. One moment you'll be playing and giggling and the next the two of you will be on the floor yelling at each other.
Every time I pick you up from school, I ask you how your day was and you say, "I don't remember." So then I have to start asking about individual aspects and you eventually recount the entire thing. Your favorite part is always recess. There is always a story about whatever superhero adventures you had with your friends. Sometimes you talk about your insecurities. You think the other kids think you're small or not as fast. And it breaks my heart because I know that you're awesome and I worry that you, like me, will put too much stock in what other people think of you.
Sometimes you drive me crazy. You are six. So sometimes you're disobedient. Sometimes you're too loud (you have this thing with loudly overreacting right now). Sometimes I go to church and I'm certain that everyone there thinks I am a horrible parent because you and your brother are diving under tables in the dining hall. There are times when I have to discipline you and you cry or get angry at me. But I hope you know that even though you sometimes make me mad or sad that I love you through every single second of it.
In this next year I hope that I am more patient with you. I hope that I can leave the stress of the day behind when I am with you and your brother. I hope that I do a better job of conveying to you how important faith is to me and thus help you see how it might be important to you. I hope I can enjoy this time with you because it really seems like it is flying by.
Jim, I love you more than you will ever know. To the moon and back does not do it justice. They would have to launch a satellite out into space to find where the end of my love for you existed out in the cosmos. And it would never find the end. It would just keep reporting back, "Nope. Love still here. Love still here." for thousands of years. I know that sounds like I am laying it on thick, but I see the same insecurity in you that lives in me. So just like my parents made sure I knew they always loved me, I want you to know that your mom and I will always love you.
We will always love you. Never forget that. We love you and your brother loves you and your grandparents love you and your aunts and uncles and cousins and scores of other family members love you and friends love you. And God loves you more than all of that combined. You are loved. I pray you never forget that. So Happy Birthday buddy. I would not trade these last six years with you for anything. I'm excited to see what happens next.