Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Henry

Dear Henry,

You turned two a few weeks ago. The fact that I am writing this letter only now says so much about what it is like to parent you. Patience is one of your strengths.

You have been called a people pleaser. A follower. Even "the happiest kid I have ever seen!" by more than one. All of this makes parenting you so enjoyable.

But it's funny. Often, people tell me that you are so happy as if they are complimenting me. Congratulating me on what a good parent I am. And I can say this with great conviction: You came this way. Besides a bout of early colic, this is just your nature. You have always smiled at everyone, flirted with those around you, looked outward for congratulations after each new accomplishment.

My job as a parent might be to teach you that you don't always have to make everyone happy. That it is okay to be different. That you might make some people mad sometimes, but that it isn't your problem. These are things I'm trying to teach myself.

At two, you love having your toenails painted, wearing hear clips. You love shoes and clothes with lots of color. But these little quirks, these little things you do only to please yourself, might be not last. You might realize, at some point, that most little boys don't paint their toenails pink.

And then I hope I can help you to find some other way to express who you are, only for you. Because I don't know you inside out, and you might surprise me, but I think that you are a follower. You are concerned for those around you. You want to fit in. And this external focus is delightful, but I hope you never lose too much of yourself.

I hope you can keep the pink and purple in your life.



Julia said...

Ser, thanks for always leaving such supportive comments on my blog-- it means a lot.

That's an awesome cake, and the letter is touching and pretty gutsy too. This is interesting because when I try to imagine the task of mothering boys, I imagine it as a non-stop effort to teach social sensitivity, awareness of the feelings of others, manners, and so on. (I realize this is a blatant gender stereotype, but probably with some general truth to it nonetheless.) I think it's great that Henry is socially sensitive, because in my opinion, this is one of the best qualities a grown man can have, but I guess if taken to the extreme it can turn into people-pleasing and suppression of one's true self. So...I'm glad Henry has such a perceptive mom to help guide him as the social scene gets more and more complicated with each birthday.

Lucy said...

This letter to Henry is beautiful. You do the mom thing so gracefully, Ser, it's inspiring. Thanks for posting this letter.

Swistle said...

I love "You came this way." That made me choke up.

so yung said...

Don't discount the love and acceptance you and Craig - and Luke - give to Henry.

Being a people-pleaser is a concern; being focused on others maybe not as much?

I'm looking foward to seeing what wonderful men these boys will grow up to be.