You turned seven 82 days ago, and I missed the opportunity to write you a birthday letter then. So here goes now...
Just yesterday, I went to your school library to see if I could find a missing book. When I told the librarians your name, they both smiled, and said, "We love Max." They didn't even seem to care that you had lost a book. I told them that I love you too but that they shouldn't be fooled by your smile. There's a little rascal in there too. (See picture above as proof.)
"He's always so happy," one of them remarked. "Always smiling." I confirmed this, and told them that people have been saying this about you since your very early days. This is truly one of your gifts.
Also just yesterday, while I was sitting at my desk working, you were carefreely skipping rope around the room. I stopped and watched you and indulged in the freedom and purity of your kid-ness, and I felt so fortunate to still have that energy in my life. Your older brother and sister aren't always so free and uncomplicated anymore.
In the past year, you learned to confidently ride a bike. You mastered the kneeboard behind the ski boat. Your reading has advanced leaps and bounds. Your math mind still amazes me with the things you can figure out. You started riding the bus after school to the taekwondo studio without Will--a big show of independence. You marched with the Little League in the Fourth of July parade, and threw candy to only your brother and sister and their friends. And you kept leaving these notes at my desk:
During your first second grade school conference, I asked your teachers about your social life.
"Everybody likes Max," they told me.
"Yes, but does Max like everybody?" I asked.
"Well, he's definitely a cat," remarked one of your teachers, suggesting that your social choices were all on your terms. I cannot think of a better metaphor for you.
Your older brother is still the center of your life. You still offer to help me in the garden (which everyone else complains about), and you always reach for my hand when we walk out there. You organize things, like the kitchen drawer where we keep all the plastic bowls and cups. And you take good care of your fish.
All this sweetness, then you give me some kind of cool-dude surfer hand gesture in response to some request, and I realize that you are indeed growing up, you won't fit on my lap for much longer, and that jump rope will be too short for you someday very soon.
Little Man Cat, you are the light of our family, you make us all smile and laugh, and you manage yourself with style. Keep it real, dude.