The Night Before Fourth Grade

You're going to fourth grade in the morning.

I'm trying to hold back some serious emotion because it's going too fast. I know things are going to change this year and I'm freaking out. I remember fourth grade and it's when I started going boy crazy and got caught kissing Matty C behind the dumpster at recess. It's when I got into mischief with teachers (is stealing donuts from the teachers' lounge really mischief though? Seriously, who can resist sprinkled donuts?). Fourth grade was the year I did something so stupid that the principal suspended me for a day (note to kids, don't write "hey dude" on the principal's car, especially if he's watching you from the window). Fourth grade is when I struggled in math class because I was too embarrassed to wear my nerdy glasses. It's when I learned about the birds and the bees, albeit a disgustingly crude description of sex from my fellow 10-year-old classmate, but it saved me from having to ask my mom about where babies came from.

So here we are. Tonight I gave you hugs before bed and you smiled. Your big, brown eyes so telling of your beautiful innocence. My heart aches thinking of the time someday soon when you'll be big and those smiles will be replaced by teenage angst or grumbles of, "mom, get out of my room."
There is still a stuffed penguin next to your pillow. Mac and cheese is your favorite meal. You just figured out how to do the Rubix cube and you think that it's the coolest thing in the world.
You still believe in Santa.

Just yesterday we took your training wheels off, it seems. You were pretty calm, even as I flailed behind you trying to keep up in case you fell off. I knew you could do it. But I definitely drowned in every possible emotion right there on the driveway that day - scared, proud, happy, fearful, nostalgia, love. Just yesterday you took naps after lunchtime, with your paci and stuffed piggie. You fell asleep some days in a cardboard box while watching your friends Elmo and Big Bird on TV. How can that same boy so quickly have become the big kid in front of me, who is probably going to be taller than me by the end of the year? Every day, every year, you make my heart grow.

Fourth grade big shot
You told me tonight you wanted to be an athlete when you grow up. I love that it's a possibility too, because you are good at all the sports you play. I knew it the minute you scored every goal in your first soccer game at age 4. I knew it when you could freakishly make baskets at age 3 in the driveway on the Fisher Price hoop. I know you see me cheer hard at your games (ok let's just admit, I'm downright inappropriate and loud) and it can be embarrassing for you, but I hope you know it's because I'm so incredibly proud to be your mom. I can't believe such a talented, smart, sweet and good looking kid is mine.

I hope you know you can ask me anything. I want you to be able to tell me anything or ask me anything. I will be honest with you, I promise. If you are curious, scared or just want answers about adjectives and adverbs, about rainbow flags, about why girls twirl their hair, about whether or not poop floats - literally anything in life. Ask me. I admit I don't know much about the penis thing, but I could probably figure it out - or at the very least I can check out every adolescent puberty book for you at the library. I know you are the only boy in the house with three sisters, but I don't want you to ever feel alone. Fourth grade is a big deal, buddy. But I know you can handle it.

So my dear firstborn, I pray tonight you stay sweet, that you keep being the same goofy boy that makes people laugh, but that you'll know when to use manners and behave. I pray that you keep working hard to be as smart and continue to challenge yourself and that you do your best in whatever sport you try. I want you to stand up for yourself and for your friends. Be a friend to someone who doesn't have any, especially to little girls in glasses who think they look nerdy. Be honest and brave. Be good and loving and accepting to people, more so than me or your daddy - we didn't have it nearly as complicated back in 1985.

I can't wait to see what you'll be someday. I can hardly wait, but then again, seeing your sweet face tonight makes me wish for it to take a lifetime.
Enjoy fourth grade son - steer clear of the donuts though, got it?


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