Holy cow. You’re four. It never fails that whenever I am with you or your brother some nice older person will come by and admire you. As well they should. You guys are pretty adorable. This woman or man will then smile and sigh and tell me to enjoy it because children grow up so fast. And I give a knowing nod and say that I know all too well.
But it really does go by quickly because you are four today. We’re a year from five which is halfway to ten and then you might as well be shaving.
I am not in a hurry to age you so let’s focus on the now. This past year has been a humility check on how awesome a parent I think I am. I would not have necessarily gone around saying that I was awesome, but I felt like I had gotten into a pretty good groove of being a dad. After all, we had sailed through the so-called terrible twos with minimal drama.
Yet here’s the thing—and I’m telling you this to prepare you for the children you might have one day—two has nothing on three. You are faster. You are stronger. You are developing a sense of independence. You are possessive of your stuff when your little brother tries to take things. You can be defiant sometimes and very stubborn. Of course, you got the stubbornness honestly from both of your folks. Throw in a little brother into the mix and this past year has not exactly been a cakewalk.
This year has also been wonderful. Though three was difficult, I would never label it terrible. Because here’s the thing, Jim: You are the absolute most loving child imaginable. Countless times throughout the day, you tell your Mom and I that you love us. You give incredible hugs. You love to crawl into our laps and be held. You are sensitive and caring. Jim, you have a beautiful heart. There are some people in this world that would say that is not a quality a man should celebrate. Those people are full of it. I hope that your heart is always this beautiful.
The other thing that I want you to know about this last year is how smart you are. Now, there are times that intelligence keeps your Mom and I on our toes. Yet on the whole we are blown away by your insight and your inquisitive nature. You are always asking questions about the world around you. As you have learned more and more about faith in this past year, you have asked good questions about Jesus, God, and heaven. These are questions that have made you mom and I—a semester away from graduating seminary—have to think thoroughly about how to answer. It’s challenging, but in a good way. Never stop asking those good questions. It’s going to keep people on their toes, but you and they will be the better for it.
Your Mom and I love so much about you. The way that you and your brother make each other giggle. The way that you always declare it a beautiful day. The ways in which your logic is hilarious yet airtight. The way you smile. The times that you want me to pick you up for an “up hug.” How you want to look at the colors, fish, and Baby Jesus in our church sanctuary each Sunday before we go to lunch. The way you sing the songs from your favorite TV shows. The list could go on and on.
Jim, we love you more than you could possibly know. We feel incredibly blessed that we get to be your parents. It is an incredible experience, a sometimes harrowing experience, a learning experience, and a beautiful experience. It is something that neither of us would trade for the world.
Thanks for being you, Jim. Happy Birthday buddy. I love you with all of my heart and I always will.