again, I’m not even mentioning your name in this letter, and I’m writing it in English which you can’t yet understand. But then, you can’t read German either, and you’ll probably be grateful to me that I didn’t make your adventures in diapers (back when you still wore them, and my blog was called “diapers and music”) google-able for your future friends and enemies.
You turned six today yesterday. A birthday that was only slightly less looked forward to than your fifth. It was overshadowed by the importance of becoming a “Vorschulkind” (entering the last year of kindergarten before elementary school), and of losing your first tooth on St. Niklas day, and therefore earning the privilege of pocket money.
This year wasn’t easy for all of us. Last winter you were happily part of a group of friends who played together every day at kindergarten, and you finally had found a best friend who liked much the same things as you. His mother told me that she saw you circling the sandbox over and over, talking and talking like old men taking a walk together. You dreamed up adventures, you wanted to go to the north pole in a sledge pulled by a unicorn, and reach the stars in a rocket that you built yourself. Then came the time when all of you realized that your friends wouldn’t be with you in kindergarten forever. That they would be going to school in the summer and you wouldn’t. In preparation for that you began to bicker, and quarrel, and what had been an easy and safe situation grew complicated.
During the summer I almost thought you were depressed. We fought a lot, about every day, you were angry at everything and everybody, and then, suddenly you’d turn around and be really needy. For the first time ever in your whole life you didn’t want to let me go in the mornings. Where all your life you had been waving goodbye to me with a happy smile and the certainty to see me again after work, now, you would cling to me and plead, “Mama, don’t go, stay with me.” You’re very much torn between your desire to grow and become independent, and your desire to be small and cared for. I have tried to help you feeling safe and loved, to hug you often, and to tell you how much I love you.
Over the past year you have grown 7 cm but you have only gained one pound. (I’m not worried, though, you’re looking fine and healthy.) Since spring you have been growing out your hair, you wanted it to grow long. You also wanted to dye it black but I think kindergarteners shouldn’t dye their hair, sorry.. I liked the way you looked with your wild golden curls. Yesterday, when I tried to tame your mane a bit to stop your hair from falling into your eyes you said you no longer wanted long hair. Because your grandmother doesn’t like it. Now you have a haircut that’s shorter but not the crew cut you had before. You’re lucky, I have never ever cut anybody’s hair with scissors. I’d say for that it looks really good.
Again, you have learned so much. Whenever I talk to your kindergarten teacher she is full of praise for your knowledge, and interest, for the way you treat the other children, and your language skills. It was a surprise for all of us when you had the impression that you weren’t doing well at the “Vorschule”. You thought it was only you who had to struggle a bit with this concept of sitting still for twenty minutes, drawing what you were told, doing things that could be “right” or “wrong” in the end.
I have to confess that I always expected you to do well in an “academic” setting. As you do. Gaining knowledge, learning, thinking, and remembering is easy for you. I love that. The thing that comes as a surprise to me is the fact that in addition to that you are so popular among your peers. I can hardly enter the kindergarten building without somebody asking me if their son or daughter can have a playdate with you. As somebody who always had troubles fitting in I hope you appreciate how precious a gift that is. Interestingly, when I ask you about your day you typically tell me about the times someone was not so nice, or something didn’t go as planned. You rarely talk about the fact that everybody wanted to play with you.
While you talk endlessly you don’t talk much about the things that happened during the day, or the people you spent time with. Again, this isn’t something I would have expected. You’re telling me all about your visions for projects, things you want to do, or buy, places you’ll go but I always feel a bit weird when your friend’s mothers come to me saying, “My child talks about your child all the time! They spend so much time together!” Well, I didn’t hear anything. (It might be a bit mean to say that my child talks about my child all the time, too.)
Still you’re not an inconsiderate person. The other day when you had a friend over, a friend who doesn’t like to draw pictures, you told him, “Just keep on drawing, you’ll get better in no time.” and “When I started kindergarten I couldn’t draw either and then I drew, and drew, and drew, and now I’m so good at this.” and in the end, “This is quite good. See, you can learn this.” I fear that teaching is another things you have inherited from your parents.
I really love that you have started learning a musical instrument, even if recorder is not your favorite thing in the world. Every time I force you to practice you like it in the end. The thing I don’t have to force you to do is playing drums. Your father has borrowed a drum set, and we are both filled with pride to the brim every single time you sit down to play. For somebody who is not quite six, and who never had drum lessons (well, apart from the informal ones you get from your father) you’re really good.
But the thing that you like the most, again, is drawing pictures, and building things out of cardboard and glue.
Every day I’m telling you that I love you so that you don’t forget it, and it’s really nice to see that you’re doing the same thing. That, even though you’re very manly nowadays, and reserve your fantasies of fairies and bunnies for your private moments at home, you still think it’s not unmanly to hug your friends, and the people you love.
I wish you a very happy year as a six-year-old, may your last year of kindergarten be merry and bright, and your transition to elementary school smooth, and uneventful. Happy birthday, my son!