When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


A belated birthday wish for my baby boy

Dear Caleb,

I know, I know.  Your birthday was months ago.  Believe me, I have attempted to write this post more than once.  I don't want you to imagine for a second that I think it a chore.  It's not.  It's just that I would prefer to be the proverbial ostrich, with my head stuck in the sands of time.  "What?  A birthday?  My baby?  Surely you can't mean my little blond haired baby!  Well, yes, I know....He's not technically a baby anymore.  Yes, he is potty-trained.  Yes, he can dress himself.  Yes, he can feed himself.  Yes, yes, YES!  I get it.  He's not a baby.  I have no babies!"

I never really understood those parents who babied their youngest.  Until now.  Until you realize that your youngest, your baby, your last baby, is just that.  Your last.  [Gulp!]  Suddenly, you are savoring every moment of babyish behavior.  You stop correcting the grammatical mistakes, because they're just so cute.  You tilt your head and say, "Aw!" when you notice that little thumb slipping into his mouth.  You turn your head away to hide the laughter when he throws a tantrum about something ridiculous.  That same tantrum, had it been thrown by your first child, would have been nipped in the bud.

And herein lies the problem.  There is no good way to keep you a baby, son.  Three year old babies aren't cute.  Four year old babies are even less so.  They morph into annoying, entitled, self-important jerks.  And we just can't have that.

So, we'll start with the sweet birthday post (and we'll deal with the smack down when the online audience is gone)...

Oh, sweet Caleb.  You are the baby that completed our family.  You are smiles and giggles, and devious sideways grins.  You are a thumb-sucking, foot-stomping, belly-laughing, ball of energy.  You are the most tactile of all of our children, constantly seeking a cheek to rub, an elbow to mush, a belly to squish.  You are effusive in your declarations of love..."I LOVE this truck!  I LOVE this house!  I LOVE you!"  You are the darling of Asia with your bright blond hair and easy smile.  People absolutely fawn over you.  I no longer freak out when strangers pick you up.  I am not surprised or offended when crowds ask to take pictures with you.  I fear that when we return to the States you we be confounded at your lack of celebrity status.  Enjoy it now, son.

This year you are my daily side-kick, as all of your older siblings have gone off to school.  We drive dad to work, stopping for coffee on the way.  Then we come home and start the chores.  You help me hang the laundry.  You love to clip the socks and underwear on the line.  When we are finished, it's nothing but play time together.  I delight in our long bike rides.  You sit silently in your seat, watching the world go by, getting out at the quiet park.  It's not quiet for long with you there!  At home, you love books and cars and books about cars and cartoons.  You love to swim and will be starting your first solo swim class soon.  I can't imagine not having to get into the pool for a swim lesson.  It's been nearly 10 years...

You are full of confidence, often introducing yourself to strangers, then informing them, "I'm free years ole."  Your dad and I like to say you "walk around like you own the place."  I love your swagger.  You don't seem to know you are the smallest.  You launch your little body into any fray, tumbling around with your older brothers and their friends like a puppy dog.

I cannot wait to watch you grow, son.  I know I love having you as a baby, but I am truly excited to see what God does with this life of yours.  I'm so excited He's placed us in Asia, where your world view can just explode!  I love that you are in such a diverse environment.  I love that you were surrounded by a bunch of Cambodian kids on your actual birthday and didn't bat an eye when they broke out in song to wish you a happy birthday.  You love riding in the back of tuk tuks and eating hummus [which you call tummus] and watching the traditional Lion dances.  You are leading an amazing little life, sweet boy.  I'm so glad I'm along for the ride!