Tuesday, March 27, 2007


A love letter to Tristan

(Editorial note: I promised that I'd write this post 20 days ago on Tristan's birthday, just like I wrote one to Simon on his birthday. It took me a long time not just because it's been a crazy month, but because it's hard to pick and choose among all the wonderful things that define Tristan to me. Also, for the first time I am aware of Tristan as a possible audience to this post, at some future date, and that has made me inexplicably self-conscious in writing this.)

My darling Tristan,

You are five years old. The rounded cheeks of your babyness have melted away, revealing the fine cheekbones and strong jaw of a handsome young man. Your unfairly long eyelashes frame your gorgeous eyes, gray one moment, then green, then blue. Your eyes take in the world, and I see the world in a different way because of how it is reflected in your beautiful, thoughtful, searching eyes.

You are a joy to me, every single day. I love your companionship, the simple joy of getting to know you and spending time with you. I love that we can sit on a quiet afternoon and play Uno together and I don't have to help you or let you win. I love bringing you with me as I run errands, simply for the pleasure of your company. I love to talk to you, to discover that you have opinions and ideas and perspectives that are uniquely your own. I love your sense of humour, and I love to laugh with you.

You don't need me to take care of you at every moment anymore. You can open your own seatbelt and car door, and put on your own boots and coat, and I can trust you out of my sight for more than a minute or two at a time, and while I am greatly relieved by much of this, it still surprises me. You have grown up so much in the past year, your first year at school.

School. You are doing so well at school, and I am so proud. You are so clever, my Tristan. I'm glad that the learning comes easily for you, and that you seem to enjoy each new task. By all accounts, after our first meeting with your teacher, you've thrived. You've taken to school like you've always belonged there.

You are kind, and thoughtful, and considerate. A few weeks ago, you took it upon yourself to put away folded piles of laundry you found on my bed. In the past week, you've taken to making your own bed - without anyone asking you to do it. And when you saw how pleased we were, you made your brother's bed, and made a good stab at making our big bed, too. You, like your mother, like to please people. I can see you absorbing our praise and approval like a plant absorbs water and sunlight.

You are even considerate of your brother. When the two of you are colouring endless pages of your favourite Toy Story and Cars characters printed out from the Internet, you are careful to write Simon's name on all his pages for him. The other day, tears ran down my cheeks from supressed laughter as I peeked around the corner from the kitchen and watched you try to help your brother put his pyjamas on, because you had yours on and of course he wanted to be just like you. You are surprisingly patient with the number of times you are asked to relinquish something or share something or give your brother the first turn at something, simply because he is younger than you. You are an ideal older brother.

You also have your mother's obsessive tendencies. You have moved in the past few months from fixations on Thomas trains to Cars toys to Toy Story characters. You have also inherited your mother's attachment to the computer, and if we let you, you would stand for hours in front of the cabinet that holds the family computer, playing video games and looking for new colouring pages. Well, maybe you get that from your father, too.

You are, son of mine, a little bit on the obstinate side. You know your mind, and you know what you like, and you are quite sure that you know more about the ways of the world than your doddering parents. Which most likely is true, but I was hoping for a few more years before you figured it out.

You still love to cuddle, thank goodness. You are endlessly affectionate, and free with hugs and smiles. You love to share a blanket, or a bed, or simply curl up with us on the sofa. I love the way you rest your head on my shoulder as we read a book together, and the way you will rest your hand on me with affection and ownership.

You are a miracle to me in so many ways, my Tristan. You are the oldest, breaking new ground with every day. I often feel like we are learning as much from you as you are learning from us. It falls to the first child to teach the parents how to parent, I think, and you are a good teacher. As you grow up, I am constantly delighted by your emerging personality.

I love you more than I could ever tell you, my son. From your bright smile to your warmth and affection to your growing independence... you find new ways every single day to endear me, to charm me, to win me over. I love you, Tristan. More and more each day.