On your fifth and sixth birthdays I wrote you letters. I’m writing one for you again today for your seventh birthday. I think this will be an ongoing tradition. It’s fun for me, and I think you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.
You’ve lived your entire sixth year of life during a global pandemic. That’s over 14% of your life! At this time last year we were still hopeful that our quarantine would only last a few weeks and that things would go back to “normal.” But here we are a year later and the pandemic is still going strong. There’s hope, though. Your mom and I both received vaccines for the virus, and millions of people in our country have already received their shots, with millions more getting theirs as they become available to a widening group of people.
You’ve adapted to what has become our daily normal. Masks. Distancing. Isolation. You didn’t get to finish kindergarten last year, but you didn’t let that dampen your curiosity. I’m so impressed with how you’ve grown this past year despite all the the extra hurdles. Your personality only continues to blossom in the best of ways. Your sense of creativity, as well as your interest in space and dinosaurs and the outdoors brings me joy.
You love to learn, and you teach me things, too. You tell me little facts about our solar system or about the eating habits of a dinosaur I’ve never heard of. Your hunger for learning new things inspires me. You have a habit of asking unanswerable questions right as you are going to bed. It’s one of my favorite parts of my day despite me telling you to go ahead and go to sleep.
I like the ways which you break the typical mold for most boys your age. You resist playing with guns and swords and from physically wrestling or fighting, not just because we tell you not to but because it’s something that you say our family doesn’t believe in. I love your confidence in who you are as a person and your understanding of who we are as a family.
Your heart has grown so tender in this past year. You are affectionate. And if I had to guess, I’d say your love language is physical touch. You often love to go around the house to make sure that all twelve people that live with us have gotten a hug each day. You still love to give me big bear hugs, and the occasional kiss (though those are fading away).
You have been such a great brother to Micah this year. The two of you were not really able to hang out with many other kids your age this past year, so you two spent so much time together as brothers and as friends. What a blessing it has been to see the two of you each day grow closer as friends and brothers. You have been so kind to him these days, and you’ve grown so much in your patience and maturity, understanding his differences with grace and adapting to play in ways that you both can have fun. I love how you try to encourage him when he is upset. Your relationship with your brother is perhaps what I am most proud of you for this past year. You love your brother so much, and he loves and idolizes you, too. I’m so thankful for your relationship.
Perhaps one of the most amazing parts of this past year is that you gained a big sister! Out of all the teenage girls you’ve lived with in the last four and a half years, the ones you’ve called your “sisters,” one of them actually became your sister. I love seeing the two of you together. My heart bursts with joy each time I see you and Micah and Lydia playing together.
Another big change this past year is that we moved into a new house. If all goes as planned, this will be your house for your entire childhood. That sense of consistency and security gives me peace. To know that this house, this home, will be the setting of so many memories makes me so happy to think about. I love to see you play with Micah outside in the yard. I love that the neighbor girls your age come ring our doorbell asking to play with you. Seeing you “dig for dinosaur bones” or play house in the backyard is so heartwarming for me, especially in a year where so many people have been isolated from each other.
You lost something like eight teeth this year! Physical proof that you are growing older. It’s a bittersweet thing to see you go from my little baby to my little boy. Last night before bed you gave me your last hug as a six year old. This morning you woke me up asking me if you were seven yet, and then you gave me your first hug as a seven year old when I told you that you were indeed seven. (I love your early morning hugs!)
I love that you are interested in spiritual things. I love your questions about God and the universe and the mysterious elements of life. You memorized the Lord’s Prayer and say it almost every night when you go to bed. There’s something about hearing it in your voice that just feels right. It’s centering for me.
You have such a wonderful imagination. And you have such a sense of ingenuity. I love that you love to build things.
I’m proud that you reject the typical paradigms for boyhood. That as the world around us continues to romanticize violence and guns, you try your best to learn how to be more gentle. I know it’s difficult to be seen as weird or boring for that, but that’s ok. This is how we change the world.
I love that your favorite color is rainbow. I love that you are excited to be taking dance classes instead of wrestling or karate. I love that you ask for the girls to paint your nails sometimes. I love that if it were up to you, you’d eat Mac and cheese for every meal and never grow tired of it.
Happy seventh birthday, Ezra! You’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. You came into my bedroom this morning proud because you said you’ve been so patient. And it was fun to see you walk into the living room this morning and hear all the girls cheer you on and say “Happy birthday!” and then to see you smile so big. You’re a sweetheart, and I love you with all that I am. I am so proud of the boy you are. I am so blessed that I get to spend so much time with you each and every day. In the midst of a very long and hard year, I do not take it for granted.