The other night, your baseball coach said to me as we were leaving a scrimmage, “Man! Joey is GOOD! His hitting has come such a long way and he is really smokin’ that ball!”
On Saturday, you will turn seven years old. I’m speechless.
I spent the past little while going back and re-reading my letters to you over the years. It’s something I’ve been doing since I started writing these to you so long ago.
Well, you completed kindergarten with flying colors, baby, just as I knew you would. I’ve always written to you how smart I believe you are, and now I have official word. You are one of four students in your grade who tested into the “Talented and Gifted” program. Aside from your new “label” you simply amazed your teacher last year. You could add numbers in your head before he could do it on a calculator. You finished the year reading above a second grade level. Your report card was full of “4’s,” the highest grade available, exhibiting mastery at everything kindergarten. But as happy as your father and I am that you are academically gifted, we are more proud of what your teacher said about it… He told us how rare it is for a child to be so empathetic. You knew you were smart, but you never talked about it or boasted to your classmates. Instead, you were the helper. Your teacher would send your classmates to you for help.Over the past year, you have skyrocketed in height, but not width. We have to buy your shorts and jeans large and then cinch them up as much as possible. Your Nana saw a picture of you from this summer and asked if we were feeding you. You are so thin! It’s only because you are so active. Of course we feed you, and you have the capacity to eat a lot! But with Tae Kwon Do, baseball, soccer, scooter riding, recess, PE, swimming, etc, you simply burn it all off. And you have muscles! I can’t get over your muscles.
You owe most of those muscles to your work in Tae Kwon Do. In class, you are constantly doing sit-ups and push-ups, squatting, stretching, and doing things that exhaust me just to watch! After your next belt graduation, you will also graduate from the “Tiny Tiger” program. You progressed your way through each available belt and on October 18th, you’ll have your last official Tiger belt (orange with a purple stripe) and will move on to Basic, then hopefully Masters and/or Leadership. You love martial arts. You love your instructors. You love your classmates. A couple of months ago, you started sparring in class. That was a switch! You are now hitting people and kicking people… And they are hitting and kicking you back!
This past year, we have traveled together quite a bit. In November, instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving, your father and I introduced you and your grandparents to Playa del Carmen. It is now your favorite vacation destination. Your grandfather also told me that he cannot remember the last time he “relaxed” for more than two consecutive days. So it was definitely a hit! In March, we decided to take you out of school a couple of weeks before spring break to go to Colorado. Just like the year before, you excelled at ski school. You had two days of lessons, then you skied with us. You did great! You were fearless, flying down the mountain at breakneck speeds. At one point, you took off so fast and were a little out of control, so your daddy pointed his skis straight down the mountain after you. The only way you could stop was to fall. Finally, you did! Trust me, you stayed with us after that!
Your final season of T-ball kept us very busy through the end of the school year. You joined a new team with a great coach, who helped you tremendously. You hit the ball amazingly well and your fielding improved dramatically, too. We played some really tough teams and held our own. We even got third place in the mid season tournament! You did so well, in fact, that your coach told us he wanted you on his “Coach Pitch” team in the fall.
In July, you, your daddy, and I packed up and went back to Playa. We spent a week swimming in the ocean, building sandcastles, hanging out, and making new friends from far off places. Your best buds on the trip were Thomas from The Netherlands and Jake from England.
True to your T-ball coach’s word, he drafted you to his Fall team, and the first week of August, you started working out with the same group of boys as the spring. We are three games into our fall season of play and undefeated! You have hit a triple and a double against kids who’ve played at this level before. You even got the game ball for game two!
You started first grade a month ago and already you are shocking and amazing your teachers. On the first Thursday of school, you found a marble in your backpack. You handed it to your teacher and told her, “Mrs. H, this is my lucky marble. You can have it.” Mrs. H thanked you and told you that she would take it to her son’s football game that night. You then said that you had a remote control at home that you could push to make the luck stronger.
The next day, Mrs. H let you know that she did, indeed, take the lucky marble to the game and that her son’s team won! She told us that you got this look on your face and said, “Oh. I think I’m gonna need that marble back. I have a lot of chores to do this weekend!” *Side note, you didn’t have chores!
Your TAG teacher also stopped me a few weeks ago as we were walking up to the school. He told me that he was extremely impressed with how eager you were to learn and how much you love math! Stuff like that just warms my heart!
You’ve been obsessed with your birthday more than ever this year, counting down the days. Yesterday, you declared that every year, when it is three days until your birthday, it is official “prank” day. You then pulled your version of pranks on me and your father, hiding under your fortress of blankets and pillows, and calling to us to come upstairs because you were ready. Then you jumped out and “scared” us.
Silly, wonderful boy. You are craving independence, wanting to scoot yourself to school and back all by yourself every day. It’s a mile each way. We let you do this on most Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days I work from home. And I walk behind you the entire way. It’s the best I can do.