Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Evan is EIGHT.
Today, you turn eight years old. You remain the purest, sweetest person I know. You came to us in 2009, which was one of our hardest years, when we lost Dad's dad, your Granddad, after he fought cancer for two heartbreaking years. You are somehow all sweetness and light--what we needed then and what we all need now.
We are on the road for your birthday, as usual. Today actually kicks off our week-long reunion with our Lantrip family. You'll spend your day with a few hours in the car, then playing near and in a lake in northwest Louisiana with your many second cousins. I'm so happy that each year, you make new, fun memories right around your birthday. I also appreciate your flexibility in letting us celebrate your birthday earlier in the month, including giving you most of your presents already. This year was fun, because you got your very own, brand-new (i.e., not hand-me-down) bike in time to ride in on the now-annual Father's Day bike ride with Dad.
First grade was a transitional year for you, but this year second grade has felt more like you hitting your stride. You continue to love math especially, but your reading has really taken off, too. You watch Tobin tear through books--several a week--during the school year. You aren't up to his pace, nor are you quite up for some of the more suspenseful novels he reads. I remember sometime in the past year, reading the first chapter of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with you. The narrator and main character Percy Jackson spends the first page warning the reader not to keep reading because the reader could discover that he himself is a half-blood. The intent of this, of course, is to stoke your curiosity and build suspense. But as we read these words, your eyes widened and you asked a lot of questions about half-bloods and what might happen in the book--some of which you already knew by hearing Tobin talk about it--and you decided that you weren't ready to ready this particular story. I was proud of you for showing self-awareness and seeking out books that were more lighthearted. You especially liked reporting how many pages you had read during the school day and on the bus ride home. Some of my favorite memories from this school year were meeting you and your siblings at the bus stop, and you emerging from the bus with a book in hand and then continuing to try to read on the short walk home down our street.
You just wrapped another fun baseball season. You moved up a level to machine pitch, but you had the same coach and many of the same teammates you'd had for your two seasons playing T-ball. Third base seems to be your specialty. You field with confidence and often come up firing. It's hard to make a put-out from third at this age, but you made a few. You've also come to understand when it's time to hold the ball and just look the runner back. You hit consistently but you also fought your way through a little slump at the end of the season. It was hard to watch you strike out in those games, but you kept your chin up and continued to play solid defense. And you always cheered for your teammates. Your awesome coach paid you a high compliment at the end of the season, noting how you brought a certain calm to the dugout and field. I think your dad and I appreciated that because we feel it too--in our family life.
Your sweet, patient, positive attitude is so important to each of us. You display a steadiness beyond your years. Maybe you're playing a bit of a sibling role: the happy medium between an analytical, understated big brother and an especially exuberant little sister. You move with ease between the two of them, playing well with both--often admiring Tobin and encouraging Lauren. Whatever your role now and in the future, you are a very good brother to each of them, and I especially appreciate that. There's a calm cohesion you provide at our family's center.
Another sweet memory I have of this year for you has been your growing interest in the piano. You've always loved music and often sing to yourself. You've taken that up a notch and like to try to bang out chords on the piano to go with your lyrics. As Lauren notes, a lot of your lyrics are "not really words" but you have some recognizable, repeated phrases, and Lala has also noted that you are "a really great singer!" I'm pretty sure no one really hears you singing outside of our house, as you remain kind of shy about it, but that makes it all the more special. It's a joy to hear you play and sing, lost in the music.
We'll spend today celebrating and appreciating you for the being uniquely you. I hope your dad and I can always provide you with the space you need to sing your heart out and share what's on that heart. You're an awesome, admirable young man. It's an honor to watch you grow into yourself with each passing year, and you make my own heart swell every single day.