Four things my son needs to know on his fourth birthday

Yesterday was the last day of August, the final Friday night before the kids head back to school, and my youngest son's birthday. This is post is for him.

This has been a big year for you JJ. You moved into a new house. You figured out how to go potty all by yourself. And you're starting to get the hang of pedaling your bike. In a couple of days you're going back to preschool. It's a great big scary world out there, so before you jump in feet first there are a few things I'd like you to know.

1. You are a fighter. You being here today is proof of how hard you've had to fight for your very existence. For most your four years, you've had to fight to be able to breathe, fight to eat (and to keep the food down), fight to communicate and be understood. The first year you were with us was one long battle with more hospitalizations than I dare to count. You are the strongest kid I know. These days you've got breathing, eating, talking mastered. In fact, I think you've dominated talking and eating. But you're still fighting; only now you fight with your brother and sister. Sometimes it appears like you're enjoying that skirmish a little too much. My hope is that, as you grow older, you'll learn what things are worth fighting for, and what is better to let go.

2. You are fearless. You are the kid that jumps down the stairs from a couple steps higher than all the other kids. You grab sports equipment you've never handled before and march onto the field as if you were a seasoned pro. You will taste any food we place in front of you at least once. Your most common phrase is "Let me try." If I'm honest with you, your bravery scares the crap out of me. I imagine the future you is going to be the kid that will jump off a roof because your friends dared you to do it. You're going to think you're invincible. You're going to attempt to make everyone believe you can fly. I worry about the infinite ways that you might hurt yourself. Please, I beg of you, be smart. But be daring. Don't ever let my reservations prevent you from being awesome.

3. You are the king of the non sequitur. I could ask you, "How was your day?" and your answer might include questions about what we're having for dinner, comments about my appearance, your favorite color, something that your sister said yesterday, and a knock knock joke. You may or may not answer my question but your reply will be delivered with a smile. You change topics without stopping for a breath - and sometimes in the middle of a sentence. Your knock knock jokes are the best. They're completely nonsensical and the definition of random. To date, your most popular joke goes like this.
You: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
You: Chicken cow.
Me: Chicken cow who?
You: Chicken cow on your face.
You then proceed to chortle like a maniacal super-villain plotting to take over the world. It will be a sad day when you stop telling those jokes.

4. You are a charmer. You might get a thrill out of pestering your siblings. Often, your mom and I don't know what to do with you. We love you, but we also get to see all of your faults on a daily basis. The rest of the world, however, you never cease to woo them. Whether it's your rock-star pose or your pouty face, people everywhere think you're delightful. I won't argue with them. You are a freakishly cute kid. The outside world gets to see the best parts of you. They see your flawless hair, your whimsical eyes, and your mischievous smile. You ham it up for cameras. And you bask in the lauding attention of friends, family, and strangers. You have great powers. My wish is that you only use these powers for good, and not for evil.

Happy birthday J-Funk.

ps: about that pouty face.
It is absurd how cute it is when you pout. Arms crossed, shoulders hunched, one foot stomped in indignation, head down with your eyes staring up to see who's paying attention. It won't be cute if you still do this as a teenager, but for now it's adorable. When you stomp that foot down and turn your back with that audible "HMMPHHFFF" sound you make, it take every fiber in my being to not burst into laughter. At most you might see a grin on the outside, but inside I'm laughing.

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