Now You Are Six

27 Jan

Dear Theo,

I’m a whole week and a half late writing your birthday letter this year, but I assume you’ll forgive me because at this point in time you don’t even know these birthday letters exist and by the time you read this I doubt you’ll even notice that the date is slightly off, so basically I’m just ratting on myself.

What can I tell you about yourself at six? Watching you grow is like watching a tight little bud slowly bloom; every time I think I’ve guessed the shape of what it will be, it changes. But it also only ever becomes more itself, the flower it was always going to be. Watching a child develop is to watch someone who is in a constant state of flux and yet is only ever becoming more themselves. You are the same person you were at two or at four, the same person you have always known yourself to be. It’s the rest of us who are racing to catch up as we try to learn about you.

I am always learning new things about you. This year, as we took a wild three week road trip through America, I discovered that you are an excellent traveller. Our ambitious itinerary, which saw us driving southwest to New Mexico, then east to Louisiana, then northeast to Washington DC and finally to New York and then home, meant that we often had days where we drove for ten hours or more. I wasn’t sure how you would handle this, but you were amazing – every day you woke up and climbed into the car, ready for adventure. You were so eager to see and experience new things (although you were significantly less eager to experience new foods, which means that you have now eaten chicken fingers in at LEAST ten different states).

In the past year, you’ve begun to show a real interest in and love of history, which obviously delights me to no end. During our road trip we stopped at several space centres and museums, all of which heavily feature John F Kennedy. We also went to the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas Book Depository in Dallas (and took a shameless selfie on the grassy knoll). You came home to Canada all starry-eyed about JFK, to the absolute delight of your Boomer grandparents. It’s only slightly weird that you like to watch videos of Kennedy’s funeral procession (to be fair, what you like most about those is Black Jack the horse).

This fall, you and I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, the story of her husband’s childhood on a farm in upstate New York, and I was astonished at how smitten with it you were. I thought the (somewhat lengthy) descriptions of the daily life on a 19th century farmstead would bore you, but you loved it. Then we took a trip to Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village, which is set in the same decade as Farmer Boy, and you loved it so much that you wanted to go back the next day.

But your biggest historical fascination this year has been Hamilton. We started listening to the soundtrack and you were immediately taken with it; you wanted to hear it over and over, and listening to it has become a bedtime routine. You have so many questions (“why do they wear that … like … cauliflower-looking collar on their shirts?”) and so many hilarious misheard lyrics (“penises, lower your voices – you stay out of trouble and you double your choices). You’ve memorized many of the songs (video evidence below), and we often catch you muttering them under your breath to yourself. You especially love Lafayette because he’s French, like you, and you wish there was a musical about him and the French Revolution.

I love that you love history. I love that we get to share this. I love telling you interesting factoids and watching your eyes light up as you beg me for more information. I love the moments when I don’t have the answer and we get to look it up and learn something new together. I love how we get excited about the same things. In some ways, I feel like this is the part of parenting that I’ve been looking forward to the most, and now that it’s happening it’s even more fun and gratifying than I’d imagined.

What else can I say about who you are now? You’re funny. You have a sharp memory. You’re endlessly curious, and you notice the smallest details. You’re very social, and you make new friends quickly. You’ve got my head for languages and you’re now fully bilingual in English and French. You’ve grown your hair out this year and refuse to get it cut; between that and your preferred uniform of graphic tees, skinny jeans and hiking boots, you’re pretty much the perfect lil hipster baby.

You’re still as stubborn as ever, and it’s a struggle to get you to do something you don’t want to do (a struggle we often lose). You still hate bedtime. You still love building and creating, and your teacher this year is sure you’ll be an architect of some kind. You still love outer space. Actually, one of my favourite stories from the road trip was when we went to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston; you were so excited to see the original mission control, and when you saw a picture of the Apollo 11’s crew in a stairwell you yelled out “LOOK, LOOK, IT’S NEIL ARMSTRONG AND BUZZ ALDRIN AND MICHAEL COLLINS.” When we finally got to the shed where they keep the Saturn V, you were so overwhelmed with emotion that you nearly started crying. You kept running up and down the length of it pointing out things you recognized. The tour guide was so taken with you that she took off her own Apollo 11 mission pin and gave it to you; she said she’d never seen a kid so young who knew so much about space travel.

I’ve put the pin away somewhere safe for you to have when you’re older. I have a feeling you’re going to have it with you when you finally go to Mars, or on whatever other amazing journeys you’re destined to take in life.



Action shot on public transit


The face you made when your teacher told you to spell your name with blocks


Like how are you actually this cool though?


Checking out the landscape at Carslbad Caverns National Park


Working the phones at the Kennedy Campaign HQ


Chilling out on the dunes at White Sands National Monument




Stepping out of the fridge at Meow Wolf’s transcendantly weird House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe


We found the best swing in the world and it’s right outside a BBQ place in New Orleans called The Joint


Hanging out at the US Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama


The only three things you wanted to see in NYC were the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Ghostbusters fire station




Meeting astronauts, as we do


15 Responses to “Now You Are Six”

  1. crochetbycalla January 27, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    Theo is adorable! What a wonderful road trip. I was suuuuuper into Ned Kelly when I was six (I’m Australian) and my parents and I went on a driving holiday around Victoria visiting all of the places associated with his life. It was such a special holiday, and your recount of your trip made me think of it. 🙂

    As far as musicals go, it doesn’t have Lafayette in it, but you could try musical adaptions of The Scarlet Pimpernel (which has an excellent opening number “Madame Guillotine” that Theo might like) or A Tale of Two Cities, both of which are set in the French Revolution.

  2. laura_hochban January 27, 2017 at 2:39 am #

    Theo is so lucky to have his life documented by a mom who writes so beautifully. Happy birthday!

  3. M.C. January 27, 2017 at 3:31 am #

    If he ever decides he wants a mentor, I have a very similar 8-year-old (9 this summer) with similar interests (science, history, politics, and, of course, Hamilton) who would definitely be interested.

  4. M.C. January 27, 2017 at 3:35 am #

    That Hamilton bit *was* awesome!

  5. smartypants196 January 27, 2017 at 4:47 am #

    What a legacy you will give him when he is older, you are the best mom ever.

  6. that little voice January 27, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    He’s darling.

  7. enterfuntech January 27, 2017 at 7:36 am #

    Wow nice… all pictures are sweet 🙂

  8. silverapplequeen January 27, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    This is when it gets really fun. Enjoy. It goes really fast & suddenly he’ll be a teen. Believe me.

  9. Deborah January 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.” John Lennon

  10. Ann January 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    What luck to have a child who shares your interest in history! My husband loves history, and neither of our kids gives a darn about it. Theo sounds like a great kid. You must be doing something right.
    BTW, is he still a pedant? Most people hate to be wrong, and they tend to shoot the messenger. I’ve worried a little about that.

  11. ClaireD January 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

    Aw that’s lovely. I’m about to read my Mr nearly-six Farmer Boy too. He loved Little House in the Big Woods 🙂

  12. rmsundstrom January 27, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

    Lovely and full of love. What a fortunate child Theo is to have such a mother!


  13. broadsideblog January 30, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    Love this…lucky Theo. Lucky you! Lucky us that you share him.

  14. galeweithers January 30, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Yup, your son is indeed super cool! Love this concept of writing letters to him even though he is not aware of the words or emotions right now; am sure though it’s something he will treasure when he gets older and these posts are shared with him. In the meantime, congrats on being such a cool parent aka you rock! 🙂

  15. Barbara February 1, 2017 at 3:53 am #

    He really is the coolest boy. Beautiful post and lovely concept. He will know you so well when he is older.

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