To my son on his birthday…

Liam turns 4

Dear Liam,

It was on a snowy and sunny Winter’s day four years ago, overlooking a crystalline Chesapeake Bay, that your mother and I welcomed your sweet and yet warlike spirit into the world.

Today is your fourth birthday.

In appearance you are slender but with a well-built frame, you can tumble and jostle quite a bit with your older and larger siblings without injury or complaint. You have the clear ocean-water eyes of your mother on a fair complexion, with golden corn-silk hair that is straight but seldom stays combed for long.

You are easy to laugh and smile and yet this temperament can swiftly darken to a stoic diffidence, especially around strangers. You cloak your shyness with a curious sort of arrogance, as if you don’t want the other person to know you’re ill-at-ease.

However, you also show a strong tendency toward leadership. You like to be in charge but you don’t fight for dominance, you just assume it among your peers. You simply lead the way and expect others to follow. To this end I’ve long since affectionately referred to you as “big cheese” for your way of conducting yourself as “the boss” and in charge of things.

One among a household of children who are all “above average” you are articulate beyond your years, and can converse with adults with clear diction and insightful remarks that often catch them off-guard.

I don’t think you can read with much comprehension yet, though you betray how much you understand by asking me what you don’t. A few weeks ago while we were at the library asked me what “IM-pah-led” meant. I asked where you had heard it, you said you hadn’t. Instead you showed me a graphic novel about knights and barbarians. The word was “impaled.” I had to tap-dance around that one, to be sure.

Liam the Pumpkin ThiefWhich brings me to your interests… like many boys you love fantasy and adventure. Knights and warriors. Games and stories. You will tear through the house bellowing a barbaric yawp, before plunging your plastic sword into the sleeping dog on the front porch.

You love to wrestle and to be tickled, a trait I am glad to encourage on a steady basis through regular practice. You love to climb and to hide, one time disappearing for nearly an hour when you’d hidden under an upturned toy box in your sister’s room, and promptly fell asleep.

Among the children you are a welcome comrade-in-arms.

You are closest with Sophia, and the sounds of your imaginative games often provide a steady murmur during sunny afternoons running in and out of doors, or rainy days building pillow fortresses.

But your friendship with Xander has only just begun, and he remains limited to crawling or stepping haltingly behind your raucous sprints back and forth. The two of you seem so similar at the same points of your development, and I suspect your closeness will grow much deeper when he’s able to run around a bit more.

You idolize Israel, everything he does is fascinating to you, though your affections seem to annoy him at this stage of his development. At this point you are still the proverbial “kid brother” who follows his elder sibling around, wanting to be a part of every project he attempts or activity that he engages.

Liam and XanderWith Gaelynn you have a tender and loving relationship, she dotes and cares for you as much now as she did in your earliest days. Despite your age difference, you get along famously, and are fond of making each other laugh. She’s quick to help you with some task or read you a story.

With your mother and I you remain our precious little boy.

So much potential abides in you. So much hope.

We have a dream for the sort of person you’re going to become, and suspect that you will likely surpass anything we could imagine… as you have thus far with each turn of the seasons.

Happy birthday, my son, may the Lord continue to bless me with many more days of knowing and loving you.

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