Happy third birthday, Benjamin!

My wonderful, sweet little boy.  I am so happy to see you turn three years old.  I’m sure I will say this every year, but I can’t believe that so much time has passed since the magical day that you came in to this world and I became a mommy.  I remember every moment of that day as though it happened yesterday — it was the most important day I’d ever had.  I am simply overjoyed to have you in my life, and to watch you grow and flourish and become even more fantastic all the time.  I love you so very much.

021We’ve had a big year!  We’ve moved far away from our family and friends, and you became a big brother.  You have made these transitions gracefully and enthusiastically.  You have taken the move so well.  Once, in the beginning of our stay here, when things were very hard and frustrating, I said I wanted to go home, and you burst into tears and said you didn’t want to go home.  You tell me all the time that you love it here and that you love Austria.  I’m so glad that you do!  It’s been wonderful to see you learn and explore and make this place your home.

031And what an amazing brother you are.  The very first thing you said upon us bringing Liam home from the hospital was, “So cute!” and you’ve gotten even better since then.  Watching you look out for Liam, care for him, think of him, share with him, I am amazed and impressed and inspired.  You are the sweetest, kindest, most loving human being I have ever met.  Ever.  You are constantly looking for Liam, watching him, making sure he’s happy, asking about it if he isn’t, sharing with him, helping him, talking to him and considering him.  When he or I drop things that we need, you will stop what you’re doing to help, whether we’re in the house or out and about in the city, even if you’re busy with something else.

047And your kindness doesn’t stop with your brother.  You are always concerned when you see anyone who isn’t happy.  Just today, we were at the park, and a little girl was crying.  You pointed her out to us and asked, “Why is that girl sad?”  You notice how other people are feeling and you want to help them.  You never want anyone to be sad, angry or upset in any way.

071And you are so brilliant.  We’ve known for a while that you have an exceptional mind and heart, but you constantly surprise us with how extraordinary you are.  Speaking to you is like conversing with an adult, except that you often ask more insightful questions.  You speak in complete, correct sentences, your vocabulary is phenomenal, you are creative and thoughtful.  Today, we were walking down the street, and you looked and some carriage horses that were trotting along and exclaimed, “Mommy, those horses are rocking out!”  It is wonderful to watch you learn, and to watch you apply the things you learn.  You’re learning to count and speak a little in German, Spanish and even Chinese and when you start school in the fall, I imagine you’ll quickly surpass everyone else in the family in terms of understanding and speaking German.  You learn songs from me or from tv, and you remember them.  Just today, you started singing, “The wheels on the bike go round and round, all through the town” (even though you’ve only ever heard it as, “The wheels on the bus”).  You can read numbers and most of the letters, and you’re starting to be able to write letters, too.  People comment all the time to us about what a good talker you are and how much you understand.  Even people who are used to dealing with children aren’t used to someone like you.  You have such a wonderful spirit, too:  whatever the weather, you’ll tell me what a beautiful day it is.  (When it is raining, you tell me you love the rain — that isn’t something you can teach someone.)  We talk about the favorite part of our day, and I’m always thrilled to hear what you’ll choose.

154You also have an astounding memory.  Anytime we go somewhere we’ve been before, you’ll remember it.  You’ll say, “This is where we were yesterday” (everything before today tends to be “yesterday”) and you remember where you are in space (you’ll know when a road ahead of us, or off to the side, goes to some other place we like to go, even if we haven’t been that way in a long time).  I think you take after me, a little, in this kind of awareness of yourself in time and space (it will serve you well).  You remember the things we tell you, the things we teach you and the boundaries we set (although sometimes you pretend to have forgotten, if it’s something you don’t like — like only one more story before bed or only 5 more minutes in the park).

You love to play with all of us, and you’re very particular about the way your games are played.  We play basketball, soccer, baseball, race cars, puzzles, drawing (you like drawing outside with chalk in particular), choo choo trains, “Old McDonald” and tent (which I think is your favorite).  You like to yell “Boo!” to scare people, and you will often start to bark (“Woof WOOF!”) very loudly if you’re excited, or just to get attention.  You take an entourage of stuffed animal friends with you wherever you can — they all have names, and you care about each of them.  If one falls off the couch, or out of your bed, you won’t rest until it’s back where it should be.  (I think, right now, Jingle is your favorite, but I’m not sure, and I don’t want to ask, because I’m not sure it really has occurred to you to even have a favorite.)  You are strong and fast and you love to run, jump, ride your tricycle and play at the park.  “I want to run!” and “I want to play!” are two of your most common sentiments.  You have boundless energy that amazes me.  You have great balance, and you pick up physical skills really quickly.  You got your first bike yesterday (for your birthday —  but you found it a day early) and you were already riding it pretty skillfully this evening.  You love to dance and spin, by yourself or with your dad.

You love your family — not just me, your dad and Liam (although you love us all very, very much), but also Bailey, Grandma, Topes, Grandpa, Sam, Margie, Mina, Nick, Peter, Adam, Jo and Gordie.  You ask about everyone all the time, and you get so excited when you get to talk to them or to see them on the computer.  You love them and you tell me that you “miss everyone from home”.  You ask all the time about your friends from home, too — Jordan and his family, Joshua, baby Ellie and their family.  You make friends quickly, and you remember names very well, so you’re already asking about Krishana, Niklas, Sean and Ian all the time, too.  In the fall, you’ll start to attend kindergarten, which I anticipate with very mixed emotions:  it will be so hard for me to give up so many hours with you every day, but I know it will help you to be even more at home here, and I know you’re ready to be around kids your own age every day.  You’ll love it!  (I will miss you.)

I hope I’m doing a good job as your mom.  There is so much I want to teach you and show you and share with you.  It’s a big job, and I don’t do a great job every day (but I do my best every day).  I’m sorry for the times when I mess up and don’t do it right.  Most days are great days, and most moments are wonderful — I’m working on the others.

My baby, I love you so much.  My time with you is filled with joy, love and awe.  I am so glad I get to be with you all the time.  You are one of my most favorite people in the whole universe (your brother is the other) and I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being so very wonderful.  I love you absolutely and completely.  I’ve said this to you before:  you don’t have to do anything in particular or be anything in particular for me to love you.  I love you, exactly as you are.  I love you, and you are an amazing person (it’s not that I love you because you are an amazing person).  You are my wonderful, perfect, darling Benjamin.  I am so grateful to have you in my life.  I am the luckiest mommy that there has ever been.  Thank you for being my child.

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