I think I didn't write this on your birthday because I am trying to deny that you are really growing up. Every cliche about the time flying and you growing so fast, etc., is true. I have enjoyed every day, every stage that has led us to your fourth birthday. You are the most loveable sinner I have ever known!
This year you have matured a lot. Some of it was natural progression and some of it was forced on you. You graduated to big-boy underpants--and you did it in under two weeks. I am forever grateful to the book Everyone Poops which made pooping on the potty so much fun for you!
You also relinquished your binkies (the four that you slept with plus the six that you kept in various areas of our house). I say relinquished instead of gave up because there was no giving on your part. It was not your idea, nor a good idea to your way of thinking. However, once we explained that other children needed your binkies, you reluctantly consented to send them to those poor needy urchins.
This summer you made friends with the pool. The first few weeks you wouldn't move off the steps of Uncle Matt and Auntie Bea's pool. But one afternoon, when Auntie Julie was in the pool watching you while I was at an appointment, she coaxed you off the steps and there was no looking back for you! Auntie Julie is an expert at getting people to do things they don't know they want to do!!
You became a fish and it became impossible to get you out of the pool! With your water wings on, you paddled merrily all over the pool with "large Superman" (who is actually all of three inches high) in one hand and a water rocket in the other. Auntie Julie's next task is to get you to simply shake the water out of your eyes when you are splashed, rather than insisting on going to the edge of the pool and wiping your eyes with a towel! Next year.
As you read this years from now, Thad, you probably willl think, "Large Superman? Three inches high?" Large Superman has been your security blanket, rarely leaving your hand. In fact, you were so attached that we got a spare on ebay incase Large Superman ever flew away. Your love of Superman has only grown over the last two years. This year you insisted on a Superman costume again AND a Superman-themed birthday party.
You also have matured relationally. You revel in your cousins and when all of you are together you are a tribe. You adore Eliza and you look up to Andy. You are learning to share and to hold your own. You also enjoy Bible study childcare--there are six boys in the room and by the time I come pick you up, you are spent!
You are growing intellectually, too! You love preschool and I couldn't have been prouder at the parent-teacher conference. You are a sponge and very curious: why, why, why to the seventh level down. And I am simply not smart enough to explain the physics and trigonometry behind it all. So I give the best answer I have: "Let's ask Daddy when he gets home; I'm sure he knows!"
You know your ABCs (now that you have just recently decided to allow L into the alphabet). You can count to 30 two times out of five attempts: you don't like 14 and 15 and you don't like me forcing them on you! You have decided you want to be called Thad and I am convinced it's because you don't want to learn to write Thaddeus. But you write Thad really well and you take pride in signing your name. Tonight you brought a bag of marshmallows to me on which you had "written" something. You translated for me: "I love Dad and I love Mama, and I love Thaddeus and we have Christianson love."
One of your weaknesses is that you are a budding perfectionist. You often will balk at doing something until you know you can do it perfectly, and you are hard on yourself when something you do isn't up to your standards. So when an A doesn't meet perfectly at the top, you will cross it out and say, "I didn't do it right!" Daddy and I are working at making sure we ease up on ourselves so you don't get the idea that perfection is the goal.
You also have a temper! I would love to say I don't know where it comes from, but I know myself too well. Daddy and I have tried to gather wise counsel and also read and re-read Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood. We are so pleased wth the progress you have made in handling your anger. We have stressed to you that it is okay to feel anger and to express it in ways that don't hurt yourself or others. You have really caught on well.
We have had an interesting year. I had several small strokes and a surgical procedure to repair a dissecting carotid aneurysm. The week that I was in the hospital was the first time that you and I hadn't slept in the same house since you were born. We were so fortunate to have Uncle Matt and Auntie Bea close by, and you just rolled with the crisis and bedded down with them quite nicely! We both survived the separation and are probably better for it!
You also are going to church and Sunday School and enjoy Sunday School a lot. I am so thrilled at the Biblical education you are getting. My deepest, fondest, most passionate dream/prayer/desire for you is that you know God, know His love for you and are passionate to love others out of His love. I believe knowing His word is the surest foundation for my dream for you being realized. You are conversant about God and Jesus, and often will talk about Jesus dying on the cross. You love Bible stories and will listen to 10 in a row at bedtime and still want more. Right now Samson has caught your fancy. You can't understand why he would let a girl get the best of him!
When you were still riding around in my tummy, I hoped that when you finally talked you would call me Mama. However, from the first time that you addressed me, it has been Mom. And of course, because it was you and said in your inimitable way, Mom was wonderful and I didn't give Mama another thought.Then, just after I came home from the hospital, you started calling me Mama. Just like that. And it is said with such affection and love, that it is . . . breathtaking. I thought maybe it would taper off, but it hasn't and it has been a wonderful gift to hear you call me Mama.
Along with my new name, you also have become very cuddily and love to, what you call, "snuggle-buggle-wuggle" with me. Several times a day you make sure to tell me that I am your best mama, that you love me so much . . . You rub your cheek on mine and pat my other cheek with your hand. It's heaven.
You ADORE your dad!!! The two of you have loads of fun adventuring together around the house and outside with swords and capes and pirate treasure and forts . . . You two have created a whole ongoing story about Captain T-Addeus and D-Daddeus with sidekicks Chaser the Dog, Superman, Batman, and LarryBoy. You wrestle, you chase, you play at the Man Store (Menards and Home Depot), you burp . . . . you glory in each other and your shared testosterone. It's a beautiful, gross thing to behold!
You also are getting into jokes. Like any toddler-preschooler, your made-up jokes put you into hysterics while Daddy and I are grinning at your silliness. You are starting to get the humor of some jokes and your favorite is "Why does the chicken cross the road?" and "Why did the elephant paint his toenails purple?" You also like a good knock-knock joke and again, make them up at your whim!
On a day-to-day level, you are simply delightful and a joy. You are witty, funny, active, imaginative (you carry on whole conversations with yourself and imaginary friends), and creative. You love playing what Auntie Shannon and Uncle Dude used to call "People". Superheroes, stuffed animals, pencils, Little People all become characters in your elaborate play. It is common for you to command Daddy or me: "Make LarryBoy talk! Make Large Superman talk!" Daddy is better at this than me!!!
You love to make art and enjoy painting, coloring, drawing on any kind of paper that is around. I have made an art wall for you and you take real pride in putting up your artwork. As the collection has grown, you enjoy rearranging what will be on top and what needs some touch-up work.
You are 39.5" tall and you hover at 35 pounds. You have loooonnnngggg legs. Your eyes are a lovely hazel that favor green, particularly when you wear green (which I stock your wardrobe with!). Your hair is a dark blond right now and unfortuntely, you got your mama's pale complexion! You also drew the short stick and have your daddy's allergies and so you take Zyrtec and Nasonex every day, something that you remind me daily is boring and that you don't like. Although I ask if you want to pick out your clothes, you usually tell me to do it.
In short, you are a gift from God! A week doesn't go by that Dad and I don't look at each other and express how great you are, how blessed we are, and wonderful God is to have given you to us. You inspire us to be better people, better lovers of God and each other, better parents. There is a saying that to have a child is to have your heart go walking around outside your body and that is so profoundly true. I get sick to my stomach when I think of harm coming to you, from others or from me. I so want you to be able to be safe and yet I know the call for me is to prepare you to be God's man in whatever situation.
Lately we have been talking about your name and I told you again what it meant: brave and kindhearted. You are both of those things and I pray you will grow into the fullness of what God defines those terms to be. You are well on your way, all thanks to God.
Thaddeus, Thad: I love you so much. Thank you for four wonderful years. I look forward to the next year . . . and pray it goes SLOWLY!
All my love,