To my dear boy on his second birthday

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Sam,

There is a magic in you that not everyone knows. To see this magic is to know you: your sensitivity, your sweetness, your exuberance in the mischief your sister cooked up. Giggles, two pairs of tiny, socked feet making dizzy rounds from the kitchen to the living room. Shrieks during Blind Man’s Bluff. Not quite getting Hide and Seek as you announce yourself with vibrato (well, as much vibrato as an almost two-year-old can muster). Wide grin, dimples. Duckies, choo-choos, moos and woof-woofs: your world is sound and action, always moving forward until two fingers find your mouth and you snuggle up: on our shoulder, on the couch, in a lap.

Yesterday we attended a birthday party at a children’s museum. You spent half the time analyzing an air pressure exhibit. It was delightful watching you tinker, and even more delightful realizing you forgot I was there. I asked your father what he cherishes about you: he said your agreeableness and your sense of wonder. Like your sister, you’re almost always up for an outing or a task and your mouth actually forms an “O” in awe when you learn and experience new things. If you asked me what I love about your dad, I just might say his agreeableness and sense of wonder, too. It’s a beautiful thing.

You are starting to talk more and I don’t believe in indulging you kids too much, but it’s your birthday, and when you’re a kid your birthday should be EVERYTHING indulgent and adorned with sugar and wrapping paper, so we’ve talked about it every day for the last week. “How old are you going to be, Sam?!” “TWO!” you said today when I picked you up from daycare, strapping you in your carseat. “Are you excited?” “Uh uh!!” you said. We asked where you wanted to go for your birthday dinner. “Cheese!!!” you said, as in Chuck E Cheese. Kid, I would only go to Chuck E Cheese for you, and when you nodded so surely, smiled so widely and pronounced your desired birthday destination so clearly, you make me want to believe there is nothing better. Chuck E Cheese it is. I asked your sister how you two know about “cheese”, and she said, in her typical three going on 13 way, “We saw it on TV, Mom.” You just smiled.

Reading to you tonight I asked you again what tomorrow is. You shook your head up and down with zeal. With zest. I told you that you needed your rest for such a celebratory day and you started panting and clapping and bopping and laughing. It was perfect. That’s all you need to know right now, Sam. That you are loved. That the cupcakes in the kitchen are for you (minus the few I’m eating as I write this). That when you shout “two!” and you see all of us smiling (no one more than your sister, mirroring your excitement) it’s for you, too.

Happy birthday, Sam. What the hell, let’s go to Chuck E Cheese.

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