Dear Andrew Michael,
Today, you are eight years old. You have been counting down the days to this birthday all month long. And before that, you were counting months. The calendar of our lives revolves around holidays and birthdays. It's nice that Abby was born in January, because it was our only gap between Halloween in October and Easter in April (yes, or sometimes in March, but that's where Mommy's birthday is), although you are still a little unhappy that her birthday is "before" yours.
This year, you have just gotten bigger and bigger and you are learning so much in school. You are in second grade and your favorite subject (other than recess) is math. Like your dad, you just "get" it somewhat instinctively. I am amazed at how quickly you work through the problems. Usually, your mistakes come from going too fast, and I have to wonder sometimes if you're bored - if it's just too easy for you. English, on the other hand, not so much. We have struggled with punctuation to end sentences, particularly the question marks. But it is getting better, and you are much less frustrated than you used to be.
Tonight, you will spend your birthday participating in your very first Science Fair. Because your parents procrastinated (and because Daddy didn't believe me when I told him he was in charge and I was leaving it up to him), your project was put together pretty quickly. But it's a good project and I hope you gain something from the experience. Your dad and I want you to enjoy all kinds of learning and not be nervous about participating in activities beyond classwork. This year and next year the science fair is voluntary, but in fourth grade, it's required, so we want you to get excited about the experience now while the final outcome isn't as important and it can just be about fun.
You are getting tall and there are times when I think you might be all arms and legs. I look at you sleeping at night sometimes and wonder how you get into those strange positions. You are a heavy sleeper, and have been known to talk in your sleep. Occasionally, you still come into Mommy and Daddy's bed early in the morning. We're pretty sure you aren't really even awake when you do it, but you've gotten so good at it that we don't usually know you're there until we wake up. Of course, it helps that you always go to Daddy's side and he sleeps just as heavily as you do.
In many ways, you are a very typical 8-year-old. You like to watch SpongeBob and Power Rangers (when I give in and allow it) and you like those blasted Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Although I'm starting to suspect that the Yu-Gi-Oh fascination is really more related to what your friends are doing than what you really like - you have been grounded from those cards for over two months now with still a couple of weeks to go and have only asked about them a couple of times - when you wanted to play at a friends' house. Where you are different is that, unlike most kids we know your age, you don't have a gaming system of any kind and you don't have a t.v. in your room. I know, you think we're evil, ogre parents. But the truth is, you're just not that in to video games. You like to play the games on your WebKinz and some that we have downloaded from the Internet for you. Sometimes you'll hit the Disney or NickJr. sites, but for the most part, you would much rather get someone to play a game of Sorry! or Yahtzee! or Monopoly Jr. or Sleeping Queens, or your new favorite - Chomp. If all that fails, there's always the good old standby - poker. Oh, yes, you're quite the poker card shark. You have beaten Poppy Ted out of some money and have come close to beating Papa. I worry about your future with such a habit forming so early. Unless, of course, you get really good, win the World Poker Tour Championship, and support your parents in the lifestyle to which we only dream of becoming accustom...
I have loved watching your relationship with your sister blossom over the last year. Now that she is bigger, you two play together. You have even starting teaming up against your dad and me, which is frightening. You have recently started learning how to use Abby as the pawn, thinking she'll get less harsh retribution than you might. Unfortunately for you, Daddy and I caught on to that game pretty quickly, because you are not yet very sly with your sister manipulation. Our day is coming, I'm sure. But for now, it is obvious that Abby absolutely adores her big brother, and you kinda like her being around, too. Someday soon you two probably won't want anything to do with the other. We've seen brief glimpses of that already when you need a break from a little shadow and tell Abby to stay out of your room. I will be sad when that time comes, but until then, I am going to enjoy watching and documenting you both love each other and I will count on the fact that the closeness you have now will survive the years of puberty that I already dread.
Some of your favorite things right now:
board games - especially Sorry!
card games - especially Chomp and poker
dice games - Yahtzee
Pirates of the Caribbean
cooked broccoli with cheese
watching movies on your portable DVD player
your snow boots and snow pants (you want to wear snow boots EVERY day!)
Sweet boy, little Buddy, I know we are quickly reaching a point where you will become too old for me. My heart aches a little on the mornings when I drop you off at day care and you won't hug and kiss me. It's not every day, yet, but I know we're getting close. I hope that you will at least let me snuggle you when we're at home for a while longer. You will always be my first Sweet Pea.
I love you,