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To Calvin, on your seventh birthday,

    Here we are, another year past. As I get older the years seem to go by faster, something I’ve heard from others many times before, but never understood until now. And as the days blend together at a dizzying pace it becomes increasingly difficult to remember any one point in time. That is one of the reasons I want to write these letters to you: so that I will have at least a yearly record of our life together, an annual snapshot of your continuous growth. To try and stop time for even just a moment.

    As always, your seventh year has been one of great growth and development. Our days are still full, sometimes with schoolwork, other times with travels, or family, or friends, and still with lots and lots of play. Your boundless energy and enthusiasm are a constant source of joy for us, and sometimes a source of exhaustion, depending on whether you are running in circles inside the house or outside. Even when you are quiet you aren’t—watching you read a book is a matter of hilarity, and many times I have glanced over to see you reading in very odd positions, such as upside down. You love playing make-believe, by yourself or with others. There is no limit to your imagination and you can spend hours absorbed in worlds of your own making. You create with the same energy as well, on the sidewalk in chalk, or on the computer, or simply the old fashioned. We go through paper at a rate that would be appalling if it weren’t for your extensive imagination. Of all your many gifts, it is your imagination that gives me the greatest pleasure.

    By this time we are marking your growth a little differently, as “leaps and bounds” is replaced by “steady and continual”. The one true milestone to mark this year is your first two lost teeth (the two bottom middle, both lost on the same night in May). Otherwise, you’ve been in the same car seat for years now, your bike will see an extra summer, and even your clothes are lasting longer than a year at a time. But “steady and continual” is a good, healthy way to grow, and healthy you have certainly been, other than summer allergies and the occasional cold. You do still experience the night time seizures, but they are increasingly infrequent (only a few over the past year) and the doctors are confident that they will stop entirely before adulthood.

     “Leaps and bounds” does still apply when it comes to your mental growth, though, and our homeschooling year has been an adventure. We spend our mornings in formal lessons now—a little math, a little grammar, some spelling, and of course history and science—but I have tried to make these flexible, keeping them challenging but attainable, and following your interests when possible. This year you mastered multiplication, long division, and sentence diagramming, and are currently following a rather deep interest in theoretical astrophysics. You read like it’s going out of style, practically inhaling books, yet you always surprise me with your comprehension when you’re done. It is not uncommon for you to grab the encyclopedia to answer a question. Your insatiable curiosity and steel trap of a memory continue to amaze.

    Learning alongside you is a constant bright spot in my life—not only the moments of great revelation, but also our more casual discussions and everyday discoveries. We don’t just learn at the kitchen table, but also at the zoo, in the yard, on hikes, at the store, on vacation. Last summer took us to Niagara Falls and your first production at Stratford. It also took us camping and to Mackinac Island. The fall and winter found us alternately in Chicago and Harbor Springs with family we love, and we have many more trips planned for the future.  

     What else is new? Last year you learned how to swim, now you know all four IM strokes and continue to amaze your teachers with your youthful mastery of the backstroke and butterfly. You played soccer for the spring season this year, and took a gymnastics course as well. Last year you had your first speaking part in a stage play, while this year you performed in two more productions (Alice in Wonderland, and Following the Gnome), even playing a lead in the second (you made a wonderful Cheshire Cat, then an adorable friendly dragon, and forgot none of your lines). You continue to excel at the piano, though you like to give your teacher (your dad) a rough time in lessons every now and again.

    This, too, is new: this sense of independence and strength of character that sometimes clashes with us, your parents. You were never one for temper tantrums, but you have your own way of seething, and this year you’re stretching your youthful legs and grabbing for greater autonomy. I can’t say it hasn’t been frustrating for us, but it is good to see you expand in your space and challenge the world around you, and every rough moment is surpassed at least twofold by delightful ones. Because whatever else you are, you are still a completely happy and loving child who delights in his surroundings, in his family, in his blanket (yes, he’s still around!), and in almost every experience he encounters.

And always, forever, we love you very much.

mom (& dad)

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