Friday, December 01, 2017

to campbell, on your 6th birthday

Dear Campbell,

Yesterday, your Mom and I were sitting at the dining room table, watching you jump up and down on your trampoline, then run over and watch the YouTube video of Melissa & Artur play on Tayo the Little Bus. 
You look like you are a miniature version of
a 14 year old in this picture. Seriously.

"Can you believe he's going to be six years old?" I asked your mom.
"Let's not even talk about it." she replied with a sigh. 

You made us smile. You always make us smile.  Well, let's be honest, not always... sometimes you drive us up the flippin' wall.  Sometimes you test our patience, sometimes you frustrate us, and sometimes you make us want to open the door and shout random unpleasant words into the night because we are so agitated at your disobedience.

But those times? Those times are few.  Mostly, you make us smile.

First, though, let's talk about the year since your birthday.  2017 has been... well, interesting to the say the least. 

As far as movies go, "Wind River" has been my favorite thusfar, though I don't expect you to see that for a long time. Several Marvel movies came out, like "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2", "Thor Ragnarok" and "Spiderman Homecoming", and all were excellent. I look forward to the day when you get into superheroes like this, and we can watch these films together.

Other movies that I enjoyed that maybe you and I can watch one day include "Baby Driver" and "Kong Skull Island" and the new Pixar movie "Coco". Your Mom and I are actually talking about taking you to see that one, letting it be your first movie theater movie ever.  But... we'll see.

I couldn't tell you a thing about music, other than Taylor Swift has a new album out, which I'll probably get and make you listen to.  And while I am doing a ton of audiobooks, I have no idea what came out this year or last, so I'm no help there either. 

As far as the world news, President Donald Trump has been in charge for almost a year now, and though he's had some hits, he's had some misses.  The news is crazy every day, so I won't even try to talk about the headlines in 2017.

Your first ice cream... well, it was sorbet, but as
far as you are concerned, it was "I's Cray"
You had some awesome milestones this year, including trying ice cream for the very first time! Strawberry sorbet from Whole Foods!  You also had your first Popsicle ever, an avocado popsicle at Steel City Pops. You ate both pretty fast and wanted more... I don't blame you.

You learned how to swim this past summer!  Ms Kerri taught you in only a few days (you still ask for "wah pay", which is "water play") and you visited your first water park, Splash Adventure, where you rode water slide after water slide after water slide. It was a testament to how good your potty training skills are because you always ask to go.  One of the few times you peed your pants this whole year was when I couldn't get you to the bathroom in time while at Splash Adventure.

Yes, you spent the whole day at a water park, but refused to pee in the pools, you wanted to go to a toilet.  Good job, kid, good job.

Campbell, you are talking like crazy now. I used to pray every night that one day you would, and somewhere around January or February of this year, you just started.  Words came slowly at first, but then quicker and quicker.  You can tell us what you want to watch now...

...okay, by the way, I have no idea what you'll be watching when you do read this, but let me tell you, not only do you dig on this show called PJ Masks (three 6 year olds put on special pajamas and become night time crime fighters)... but you love the Muppets, which makes your Dad VERY proud, especially when you see Kermit and say "KAH-MAT!!"... and you love Mickey's Roadster Racers, which is a lesser replacement for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse... and for some reason, you are now into this YouTube Channel called "MelliArt", which are these two kids named Melissa & Artur in all these videos that teach colors and numbers and fruit names and vehicle names and such.  I did the research, and apparently it hails from Greece -- you can tell by the accents of the kids and the dad, who seems nice.  Anyway, YOU LOVE that stuff.  You ask to watch "TAYO BUS" every day, and you don't just mean the Tayo the Little Bus show... you want to watch the video with the kids on the Tayo toy bus singing "Wheels on the Bus".  This is a testament to how much Mom and Dad love you, because we hear that song being sung in a slightly greek accent in our sleep now.  Aye yi yi.

Okay, back to your words...

Yes, you tell us what you want to watch when we ask... you say "please" (sounds like "peas") when you ask for things... earlier today, you went to the potty ALL BY YOURSELF (I only came to check when I heard no more splashing in the water)... you are talking SO MUCH now, and its so wonderful.

And we know you love music, because you are doing great on your piano lessons. And how you ask your Mommy to sing "Let It Go" and "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" to you every night when you are taking a bath -- you went through a phase where you wanted to watch "Rio 2" and "Frozen" every day, and though those aren't requested much anymore, you still love the songs.  Nothing is sweeter than hearing your voice down the hall ask your Mom "Sing Lah Go peas" or "Sing Sno-mah peas" ("sing Let It Go please" and "sing Snowman please")

We always worry about you making friends... not that you can't make friends, but we hope that friends will find you, and boy, you have some this year.  It's a hoot watching you play with your classmate Barrett, and especially his little brother Fitz, who you seem to just love to chase and be around.  And I know you like Piper and Spencer and Eli because you call out their names when you see them.

I know that "imagination" is still something you are working on, as well as "creative playing"... meaning, you and I can't just sit down together and have an adventure with LEGOs or action figures -- but you are starting to get there. I watching you walk the little people figures up the toy airplane steps and I watch you mime and simulate actions that you see us do (scary) and I know your little brain is just absorbing and churning.

And I am so happy that you finally attached yourself to something like PJ Masks.  Catboy, Gekko and Owlette aren't just random names you see on TV... you know who they are, you identify with what they do, and you say their names with recognition.  Campbell, son, that's a big deal for you.

Your Mother and I love you so, so much, and we are so proud of you, Campbell.  I feel like you've developed more this year than you ever have, and its been so great to watch.  You have lots of fans too -- lots of people I know in person and online ask about you, root for you, pray for you, and really want to meet you one day.

Six is going to be a big year for you too -- more swimming lessons, more bike lessons and next fall, real public school. We are petrified. You'll be awesome.

In fact, I wrote this entire letter on this page and didn't even think of the word "Autism" until I started linking previous letters to you at the bottom... and then thought "Oh yeah... my kid has the autism. But autism can suck it."  It just shows that Autism isn't going to hold you back. I believe that, I truly do.

Now, here's the lesson I wanted to teach you.  This is important, listen up... "Respect" has become a big deal in this current day we live in.  There have been lots of news stories about people -- mostly men -- who have shown lots of disrespect to others -- mostly women -- in the way they talk to them, treat them and yes, even try to touch them and be with them in ways that aren't nice or proper or appropriate. 

"Respect" means that you treat someone you know (or someone you don't) with kindness.  It means you don't say or do anything to make them feel bad about themselves, or to make you look like you are better than them.  "Respect", especially when it comes to girls, is something that you need to always show.  If you ever show the kind of disrespect to a woman that we are seeing in the news lately, you'll have me and your mom to answer to. I don't care if you are 14 or 45.

We love you, but we need you to understand that many people aren't respectful out there.  Sometimes people won't respect you, son, sometimes people will say and do things to you and around you that will try to make you feel bad. That will try to make you feel like you aren't as good as anyone else. Don't listen to that nonsense.

You were created by God and given to me and your Mom exactly how you were meant to be.  Sometimes its been challenging, other times its been wonderful, and then so many times its just between all of that.

Remember that God loves you more than anyone ever would or could -- as much as Mom and I love you, which is more than you can imagine, God loves you even more.  We pray that one day, when you grasp the concept, you'll find Jesus in your heart as well. 

As always, I write these birthday letters to you late at night, so its likely a jumbled mess, much like my parenting skills, but I think you catch my drift.  I'm headed to bed now, as I have to get you up and cook your breakfast in about 4 hours.


To Campbell, on your 5th birthday
To Campbell, on your 4th birthday (with links to previous letters)
Learning the A-Word
My Kid Has the Autism