Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Evan is SEVEN.
When you were born, seven years ago today, we called you "Baby Evan from Heaven." Tobin was just three years old then, and he liked the rhyme. And we all adored you--you might as well have been an angel. Well, today your age rhymes with your name and you like saying "Evan is seven."
I don't mean to hang too heavy a halo on your head, but any one who's ever spent any time with you quickly catches on to what a truly sweet spirit you have. Your heart is tender and your joy comes easy.
This has always been true of you. You are shy with adults but make quick, strong connections with other kids. I remember taking you to playgrounds when you were a toddler, and you'd almost always pair off with another kid, a total stranger, and the two of you would be best of friends for that hour or so of play.
This year at school, you moved up to a first through third grade class. This was a big transition because you changed teachers after two years with the same one in your pre-K/kindergarten class. You were hoping to follow in Tobin's footsteps and be in Mr. Zopfi's class. But you were assigned to his wife's class, right across the hall. I felt comfortable with this, because I knew she was very nice, but you were unsure. Then I found out some fun news: your friend Ruby was in Mrs. Zopfi's class.
Ruby has been in your class since the first day of pre-K and the two of you have a really sweet friendship. You enjoy each other's company and are both really nice to everyone. That seemed to calm your first-day jitters and you really loved your first year in Mrs. Zopfi's class. Mrs. Zopfi, Dad and I were very proud of how hard you worked. You made great strides in reading. Writing was especially difficult for you at the beginning of the year. As part of your nightly homework, you had to write one sentence in response to the short book you read. For the first two months of the school year, getting through this one sentence often involved tears and a lot of patient encouragement from Dad and me. Even though it was hard, you stuck with it. Then at the start of the second semester, your assignment increased to writing two sentences. You complained about the extra work, but adjusted more quickly because writing had become easier. When I was visiting your class on one of the last days of schools, Mrs. Zopfi told me, "I'm so proud of Evan. He struggled so much with writing at the beginning of the year, but now he's such an enthusiastic little author."
Mrs. Zopfi also paid you a high compliment when she told me how everyone in class seems to like you. You get along well with friends in your multi-age class, no matter their grade. Mrs. Zopfi explained, "It's just because he's so nice to everyone." I'm thankful you are well-liked, but I'm thrilled and proud to hear about your kindness. I'm also grateful that you're in a school where you can make friends with kids who come from a variety of backgrounds, some seeming very different from yours. But what I see you learning is that we're really not all that different, and we're all in this together.
Your kindness is in full effect in the sports you play. You loved your third fall of soccer, but your second spring of baseball was really special. We lucked out when you got drafted by your coach from last year. We love Coach Matt. He's kind, caring and fun. You were thrilled to be an Oriole again. You got to play a lot of third base, as well as first and pitcher. Even when you played left field, you would come up firing, trying to get a force at second or third. We loved seeing your skill continue to develop and watching the effort and joy with which you played. You were one of the best players on your team, but what you seemed most concerned with whether or not you were the tallest. At the end of the season, your coach honored you with your team's sportsmanship award. That made us prouder than anything you did on the field, or even your team's awesome second-place regular-season finish.
As has been the case for most of your birthdays, we are currently away from from home on our summer travels. We spent a couple days in the car, making our way to Louisiana for our annual family reunion. Your dad likes to play music for us. He made a few mixes and we've enjoyed the Avett Brothers' new album. From my view in the front passenger seat, I catch your dad smiling and sometimes patting his heart. He explains that he can watch you in the rear view mirror, listening, moving and singing along with the music. And it makes his heart swell.
Ev, my hope and prayer for you this year, and always, is that your heart will remain tender. It's what makes you, you. Sometimes I want to shield you from the things that will make your heart hurt. But I'm learning from you that a tender heart is an open heart. The love you give is returned right back to you. You remind me that even in my more complicated grown-up life that kindness is the best place to start, everyday life is full of joy, and hard work (and play) are their own rewards. So today we proclaim: "Evan is seven!" And shower you with the love and joy you have given each of us.
Posted by allison at 10:33 AM