Last year, on his birthday, we had been placed in temporary housing due to being smoked out of our home. I worried and was stressed because we didn't have a camera to document the day. (We ended up borrowing one.) Since then his growth has been documented over and over again. His smile, more sincere and yet still so goofy. His eyes, which have started shining even brighter, if that be possible. He is taller now and glad of it for he intends to be as tall as daddy. Maybe taller.
Trains are still his obsession. Anytime he is approached with a new Thomas the Tank Engine story, there is a sharp intake of breath before the loud, "YAY-HOOOO!" There are train tracks built all over our house. We step over them, everywhere. And that is ok because they won't always be there. (At least, we assume.)
This past year he has grown in his compassion for others. (There were times I assumed he had none!) He looks out for his family. If he thinks his younger sister needs her blanket, he will get it for her. He brings his older brother glasses of water and books to read when he is sick. He stands at our side and asks, "What I can do?" He believes he can do anything.
He is still the most outgoing of all of our children. This gets him into trouble, as much as he benefits from making friends of everyone. When we walk into church people say, "Oh heh!" to him and we sometimes wonder who they are. Sometimes I have to ask him to tell me the names of the other small children at church because I've forgotten. He tells me who they are because he knows. He knows because he's in their face, waiting for a good time to happen. Sometimes he is rewarded with their playtime. Other times he is disappointed and hurt because they didn't appreciate his nose on theirs. We speak of boundaries and quiet voices, all while praising his cheerful spirit. They do not know that when he smiles them, he means it. There is no show. Therefore there is great value in his friendship.
He still loves to laugh and his laugh is quite infectious. No matter how you are feeling, once you hear him laugh, you are forced to smile. It is so wholesome and so deep a laugh that you want to be his friend. And somehow you want to be the cause of his laughter. Watching him delight in life is a delight all its own.
He has not been very quick to mind and just as easily as he laughs, he also cries. (We hope he outgrows this soon. Four is a good time to ditch the tears!) Previously he only cried because he was caught, not from remorse. However, three has grown a respect within him for authority figures. We have given him rules to follow and we discover that, even in our absence, he has held to them, even when people in authority over him give him opportunities to break our rules. (They do not mean to make him break our rules; they do not know of the existence of certain rules and are therefore surprised when our second born declines their offers.) Sometimes we have worried that he will just follow the crowd in his quest for a good time. But he has shown us lately, a few times over, that he is not a crowd pleaser, but that he is pleased by the crowd. Trust grows between us, just as we have prayed.
He is all love, all friendship, all devotion and very dimpled happiness. He has discovered family and he revels in it. His favorite person is his uncle, on daddy's side. He calls him, "CHARLIE BROWN!" because we saw a Christmas display which included Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree and his uncle bet him that he wouldn't remember the name "Charlie Brown" after seven minutes. No such luck. He remembers the things he really wants to remember, even if sometimes you wish he wouldn't.
This year our second born stands to gain a new brother. This brother is coming from the same country as himself. People have speculated that this brother is going to be very meaningful to him, as they will have a special bond that we can't touch. While this is true to some extent, and could prove interesting, it will not automatically form a bond. He doesn't see his differences, so I wonder how he will notice the difference in someone else. What he knows - and what he loves - is his family. That is us! The shape of our eyes does not matter, nor does the color of our skin. We are a family. And collectively we plan to welcome another. And we rejoice, not just because there's a new one on the way but because each of our lives will be further enriched by something that is so different from us that it makes us more the same.
Happiest birthday to my second born child, my new four year old and the secure older brother to two! We look forward to so many more bright years with you and are grateful for all that you have added - and completed - in our family!