In a few short months, you will be turning 5 and starting school. I am excited for you, because you can’t wait, but I am also a little sad. You see, I feel like your preschool years have gone by too quickly. Sure, there were times when I wished you would grow up a little faster (usually when you were going through a particularly trying stage), but oh how I miss my angelic chubby-faced baby, my curly-haired toddler, my inquisitive 3-year-old.
But you know what? I have to face the facts: you are growing up before my very eyes. And as much as I feel that time moves too quickly, I really love watching you change and learn and grow. I love seeing your personality emerge.
You are the complete opposite of your brother. Your looks and personalities couldn’t be more different. And yet, you want to be JUST like him. You are so blessed to have a wonderful big brother like Ethan. He is a good role model, in many ways. But he’s not YOU. I want to encourage you to be your own person, Tyler. Have your own interests and favourite things. Develop your natural personality, without trying to be like your brother. It’s great to emulate the things that you admire in Ethan, but don’t give up on your own dreams and desires in your self-imposed quest to imitate him.
At the moment, it’s like this: If Ethan asks for honey on his toast, you change your request to match his. When we eat out, you order whatever Ethan orders (and if he orders after you, you subsequently change your mind). Ethan does Athletics; you want to do it as well (next Summer). Ethan plays soccer; now you play too. Ethan is learning the drums; you want to learn also.
Tyler, if you really love Athletics, soccer and playing the drums, then I’m happy for you to do those things. But if your burning desire is to play rugby or learn the piano, I want you to have the courage to say so.
I want you to have the freedom to be yourself, whoever that may be. We’re still discovering that, together. And I don’t want that discovery to be clouded by your desire to be just like Ethan. I don’t ever want you to feel like you have to live in his shadow. He is not you; you are not him. I don’t expect (or want) you to be just like him.
Soon you will start school. You may not have the academic prowess that your brother possesses. But that’s fine with me. I will be proud of you for learning to read, whether it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. I will be proud of you for trying your best and giving it your all. Your best may not be enough to propell you to the top of the class, but I don’t care. You can be at the bottom and I will still love you and encourage you and cheer for you. Who knows? Maybe you will be just as smart as your brother. Maybe you will be smarter. It doesn’t matter to me.
More than anything, I want you to know that I have made a conscious effort NOT to compare the two of you. I knew from the moment you were born that you had a very different personality. I knew you were going to be the fiesty one, the strong-willed one. I knew my parenting abilities would be put to the test, that I would have to change my thinking sometimes in order to fully understand you. But that’s not a bad thing at all. You have made me a better person.
When you arrived, I felt like Daddy and I were first-time parents again. But that just goes to prove that all children are totally unique. And that’s why we don’t get an instruction manual at birth. We have to figure you out on our own. Except we’re not really doing it on our own; God is helping us.
God made you, and you are special. To him. To us. To many people. I have so many dreams for your future, but it may surprise you to know that they’re not dependent on anything. They’re not dependent on your abilities or talents or skills. My dreams for you are pretty simple: I want you to know God. I want you to be a good person. I want you to be happy. I want you to be yourself. Whatever form those things take, whatever road you choose to walk to get there. But more than anything else, I want you to know that I love you, and I will always be here for you.
Dream big, aim high, believe in yourself. You have so much potential! Don’t give up when things get tough. Pick yourself up and carry on. When you do your best, do YOUR best. Don’t try to be somebody else; be yourself.
I love you, Tyler.