Dear Dan The Man (Best Boy),
It’s Sunday morning, your last Sunday as a preschooler. On Tuesday, you have your teacher interview, and on Wednesday, you begin your journey as a bonafide big kid.
I’m going to be honest, Dan. This letter is more for me than it is for you. Because there is so many things I want to say to you, but you are only five years old, and it’s your job to enjoy childhood. It is not your job to humour your old mum, or understand the complexities of the emotions that I feel.
I’m so excited for you, Dan. You are so ready for this adventure. The past few months, you have become increasingly bored. Restless. Your need for more is evident. You are full of questions, so many questions: why is night time so dark? What does that word mean? Where do dolphins go when they want to sleep? What animal lived in that shell? You long to learn, without even realising it.
I’m scared for you, too. You have your father’s stubborn determination, combined with my fierceness – a combination that leaves you naturally competitive, but prone to rage. It worries me, that this is all some people will see, when they see you. A ball of energy and frustration, which explodes, from time to time, with a force volcanic.
There is more to you, Dan. So much more.
From your father, you also inherited unyielding devotion. From me, the fierceness that fuels our anger is equaled by the fierceness that fuels our love. You are the little boy who waits for me at the end of a race up the driveway, to make sure I don’t have to come last. The boy who stood in front of a group of bullies at least twice your age, defending your sister after they had reduced her to tears. The boy who, after a particularly gigantic meltdown, will come to me in tears, so painfully full of regret for your actions that my heart breaks.
Your naturally generous nature is one of my favourite things about you, Dan. When I take you for a “special day”, you always want to know: will I make sure Phoebe has a day with me, too? After your last birthday party, you divided your gifts, so that your sister and brother would not feel left out. You regularly give up the space in your bed, for your little brother’s night terrors, and your older sister’s fear of the dark.
You are funny, too, my Dan the Man. When I see you with your friends, you are the one hamming it up, telling the jokes, creating the fun. You know how to laugh at yourself. Perhaps you will be the class clown, and that’s OK with me – some of my favourite kids were the clowns, they grow up to be the best people.
I’m excited for you Dan, however I am going to miss you. I’ll miss our conversations, our lunch time cuddles. I’ll miss you when you are not holding my hand in the shops, when you are not running down the hallway with your brother, when you are no longer racing through the kids in creche to jump into my arms when I come back from the gym. Part of me wishes that time could stand still, and you could always be my little boy, cheeks flushed with enthusiasm, hair a mess from a life lived at full speed. But I know that you need to grow, and I need to accept it. Even when I don’t want to.
I will try my hardest not to cry on Wednesday, Dan. It’s such a mixed bag of crazy emotions, this parenting game. When I see you on Wednesday, your skinny legs and knobbly knees, your brand new school shirt two sizes too big (it’s really hard to find uniforms for a lanky kid like you), I know my heart will simultaneously sing and break. If you cry, I will probably cry too, and that’s OK.
I love you so much, mate. I love you so much, that last night I lay awake, desperately wanting to crawl into your bed and hold you tight. As your big, big day looms closer, I find myself hugging you harder, holding you longer. As I hold your hand, I try desperately to keep it there, safely in my own, because as much as I know you have to grow up, a big part of me is not ready to let go of you just yet. Tonight, I might let you crawl into my bed, and sleep in my arms, for just a little while, as you did when you were a little tyke.
I’m so proud of who you are, and who you are becoming, Dan. You and your big heart deserve all the good things. I can’t wait to see you achieve them.
Loads of love and tickle-kisses,
Your biggest fan.