To My Fire Boy on his Fourth Birthday

You, my dear, sweet boy, you have what we like to call character.


Some people drift through life. You are not one of them. You do not drift. You run, you jump. Sometimes I suspect you fly.


Three was a heck of a year. I am honestly teary already, which I think must be a record when it comes to these letters.


Your curls slay me. Your eyelashes, too.


You are really into puzzles.


You are even more into building things. You make these big, elaborate architectural creations from the blocks I keep in a basket in the living room. You build one, carefully, meticulously, almost every day. I think they’re incredible.


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You learned to write your name. You absolutely know it is spelled “Sam” but you like to write it “Sma.” This is very you.


You are funny.


And mischievous.


And too clever for your own good.


At three you still take naps. Long ones.

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Sometimes you still fall asleep on me. Right now you’re still small enough to fit. When I write you a letter next year I’m not sure if that will still be the case. So when you want to sleep on me, I usually stop whatever I’m doing and let you.

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You’re my little cardinals fan.

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You have conversation skills that blow me away. Your dad and I joke that you’re better at talking to strangers (when we still lived in Old Louisville, this was mostly college girls) than most grown men (your go-to line – “Hi, my name is Sam Brooks. What’s your name?”). You are emotionally astute in a way a lot of kids – hell, a lot of people – aren’t.

Just too dang grown sometimes.


It’s still uncanny how you say things exactly the same as Goldie, or make faces like him.


Even though you’re getting older you’re still the youngest. Sometimes you don’t like it and sometimes you don’t mind.


And you and Sirius? Man, that’s what being brothers is all about.


Remember your hug-nose-kiss routine I told you about in your letter last year? In the past year it has transformed. It’s current form is: blow it up, ears, arms, noses, kiss cheek-nose-cheek-forehead (twice), lips, then hugs (usually ten). You ask for this every night and every day when I drop you off at daycare. Now that I think of it, you approach hugs and kisses the same way you build your elaborate structures.


Speaking of daycare drop off, you usually go straight to a cot and lay down. You, my sweet boy, are not a morning person. You are a night owl and would be happiest on a 10 – 10 sleep schedule. Unfortunately for you, we don’t live that life.

You’re mornings are subsequently pretty grumpy.


I would be remiss to leave your first trip to the emergency room (the first trip of any of our children, actually) out of the letter. It was the day before your dad’s birthday. You were watching a movie with Sirius in our room – you know, the room with the no-wrestling rule.

You guys were wrestling.

I heard Sirius’s screams before I could hear you, and when I ran upstairs all I saw was blood. Your dad sat down with Sirius to calm him down. He was hysterical, devastated and scared that he hurt you when he swung you into the dresser and you landed precisely on the corner of the slightly opened drawer. I took you to the bathroom and started wiping the blood from your face, pressing a wash cloth into the cut, watching the washcloth slowly turn pink. When I got the nerve to pull it away and look I almost fainted. I was sure a chunk of your head was missing (turns out, that’s just what splitting your skin open looks like).

We wrapped you in a blanket and took you to the emergency room. It was snowing. We were worried you had a concussion. You hit your head so hard over the next few days you slowly developed two black eyes. I don’t even know how I kept you talking the whole way, but I did.


(That’s a Merida sticker on your arm. One of my favorite things about you is you like what you like. Brave, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First – to you they are no different than Spiderman, Ben10, Lego Chima, and Ninja Turtles. Never lose that).

You were obsessed with the remote in the hospital room. The sound came from a little speaker on the front instead of the TV.


Six stitches.

This is you looking at me as they finished. Whenever I see this picture it feels like a tiny person climbs inside my chest and twists my heart, like wringing out a wash cloth.



Two days later you had your second trip to the emergency room when I came home from work to find you with a very red and very warm face, your stitches infected.


Now you have a scar over your eyebrow. When you tell people what happened you refer to the whole incident, and your scar, as “The Blood.”

You are getting bigger and I want to be able to protect you. I want every problem in your life to be fixable with a needle and thread. I want you to fall asleep in my arms. I want to slow down time as it spins out of control, stretching you taller by the minute.


It seems impossible that you are so big. That I can scroll back and see Sirius’s fourth birthday letter and here I sit, writing yours. When I close my eyes I can see the images zip by – me, on the side of a bathtub holding a pregnancy test on that hot August day. Sitting for the bar exam with your steady kick-kick-kick for the entire day two. That final push and the absolute high of birthing you. Watching you sleep, fearing waking the tiny giant. The way you walked up stairs, defiantly, as soon as you could walk. Eating graham crackers with your toes. Then a blink and I am here, with a boy who will only be three a few more hours sitting beside me. It’s enough to make me weep and laugh all at once.

The other day you came with me to the store to buy things for your birthday party. You like being with me, you told me.

I like being with you too.

You and me, kid. You and me then, you and me now.


Love always,

Your mama








8 thoughts on “To My Fire Boy on his Fourth Birthday

  1. I absolutely love this letter. He is an adorable and smart little boy!!!

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. What great memories you all are making. Happy Birthday Sam!

  3. This letter reminded me of the troubles my Mama had to go through raising me up. Sure, there were fun times too. Indeed, this brings back my childhood quite distinctly and I thank you for that memory! Your son is very lucky, miss.

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