Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Feel Old (My Baby Brother Is Awesome)

Dear Five Head,

Today is your second day of the fifth grade. That's right, I said FIFTH. I know, I'm having a stroke, too. I would have written this on your first day of school, but our mother didn't remind me until she'd already dropped you off at school with your Star Trek backpack and your 3-pack of glue sticks. My heart wrenches a little, the image of you marching through those double doors and into the unknown: your first male teacher, a new, shortened recess, more homework, new friends, lost friends, and of course, because it's a private Christian school, there is the ever-present threat of The Rapture (supposedly reassuring, they say, but it always scared the crap out of me).

I cannot remember how exactly is was that you got to be ten years old. Last I recall, you were a squealing, rambunctious toddler who delighted in squirming away during diaper changes and running naked and laughing through the house, begging to be chased. I remember you watching Tarzan over and over and over and over and over, and now when I see that movie, I think of you and cry a little. How when you cried, I paced the front sidewalk with you in my arms, singing Edelweiss and Smile and every other song ever written, until at last you slept.

Remember the time? No, of course you wouldn't, you were too were learning to play catch with a Nerf ball and you flung it with such force that the ball rocketed behind the recliner sofa. You were adamant that I retrieve the ball (I presume that's what you meant by, "SCREEEEEEEE!"), so I stood on the couch and leaned over it's back...

...just enough to kick out the footrest of the recliner, which hit you in the chest and knocked you backward with such force that your head bounced off the coffee table behind and you stumbled forward, hitting the end table with your forehead.

In that instant, I was sure that I'd killed you and the feeling that shot through me was one that I've never felt, either before or since (except the time when you began choking on your spit up, but that's another story entirely), and I scrambled to your side just in time for you to stand up, shake your head a little as if trying to un-scramble whatever had been knocked around in there, and you laughed. LAUGHED. The living room furniture was no match for your gigantic, built-in helmet.

And now you're a straight A student, the top of your class, and a volunteer at school and at your church. You've taken that head-helmet and filled it with Spanish and multiplication tables and trivia (disgusting world records among your favorite). You love to read. You are an amazing artist, never without your notebook and pencils, always finding inspiration in the world around you. You are an inspiration, buddy.

Whoever could have guessed that you'd go from blond ringlets to stick-straight brown hair, from stinky diapers to stinky farts, from Elmo to Transformers, from bottles to a very specific, NON-SALAD diet.

I miss who you were then, but not as much as I love who you are now.

I hope your second day of fifth grade is freaking AWESOME, little brother.


In case you end up, like, finding a cure for cancer or bringing out world peace or something, I'm taking all the credit. Dude, I read to you ALL THE TIME. What? The Ugly Duckling TOTALLY taught you important life-lessons.