To my son on his birthday…

Dear Liam,

Five years ago today — on a wintry January morning — you were born in Annapolis, Maryland. You, my “blond beast,” were born gentle and mild. The nurse handed you to me and I walked to the window and looked out upon the snow-covered landscape of the town, and wondered at what sort of boy you would be.

Still so young, yes, but there’s much about your character I can glean amidst your childish yawps and little boy shenanigans.

For one, you are loving. Even as I was first about to write this — just moments ago — you suddenly came giggling into my bedroom, planted a sloppy kiss on me, and then ran off as quickly as you arrived. I could only laugh. It’s the same sort of thing whenever I pick you up from school in the afternoons, you can’t leave until you give every single one of your classmates/teachers a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Most find it endearing, though a few look at you like you’re a crazy person. Maybe you are. If so, I hope you never recover.

Sophia and Liam Thanksgiving 2013At the same time, you’re “all boy” in how you love to tumble and wrestle. When I tuck you in for bed you always ask me for a “body slam” — a maneuver where I fling you high into the air, and bring you downward into a controlled collision with the mattress. Your mother’s not crazy about it, but for you it seems the perfect way to cap off the day.

You remain clear-eyed and corn-silk haired, fair and slender in appearance — with a surprising physicality for one still so little. You can lift your body weight when climbing, you can fling a ball with above-average speed, and you can run at top speed for a duration without any sense of being winded. At the same time, you’re a bright child. Able to discern patterns in puzzles and games with relative ease.

Being one of the youngish children of a large family, it might be easy to be overlooked or run roughshod over by your bigger and elder siblings… but you hold your own just fine. In fact, though small, you have a gravity about yourself that even allows you to impose your will on occasion. Among children of your own age you’re an easy leader, driving the pack from both the front and the back.

My favorite trait of yours is your devotion to the people you care about. You adore your family, clinging to us closer than, perhaps, we’re comfortable with at times. In this, and so many other ways, you make your mother and I laugh so much. There are so many stories I could recount at this point, but by the time you’re old enough to read and understand this letter, I”m sure you would’ve heard them a million times.

But know this my son, as I speak to you across the years: I love you so much, and it is my great privilege to be your father. You are a blessing of a son, a blessing that continue to enrich my family with each passing year.

Happy birthday my son, may God grant me many more to share with you.

Love, your devoted father,

Matthew

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