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To Calvin, on your ninth birthday

You turn nine this year.

It sounds so much older than I imagine you in my mind. I still imagine you as that little toddler with that adorably tiny voice, and when you curl up with your blanket and stuffed animals to indulge in a good book, I still see that little boy in you. And yet, nine is also so much younger than I sometimes find you to be in those moments when your wisdom seems to outshine your years.

Last year I wrote to you about the battles of will and fights for independence we were having. The phase lasted all last summer, and in hindsight, this was you leaving the grammar stage and entering the logic stage. It was you growing tired of the following and parroting, and instead developing a strong sense of autonomy, fairness, and right and wrong, and honing your reasoning (and arguing) skills. Like all kids, you practice those skills on us, pushing the envelope and testing our patience, and, as with many things, you do this with vigor. Good questioning is both a gift and a curse in a growing child, and I would never take that away from you. It is your insane desire to question the world around you that we most want to indulge and develop in this stage. As infuriating as it can be, it is exactly this that we wish for you: that you don’t just accept things as they are, but ask why they are, and then study the answer. If the answer does not fit your sense of logic, then continue questioning and seeking until it does.

Of course while growing mentally by leaps and bounds, you are growing physically, too, and (finally!) you are beginning to resemble as much of me, your mom, as you always have your dad. You continue to swim at least once a week, and on occasion we run together. Last fall you ran your first one mile race and finished in under nine minutes. You were very proud, and so were we! Even more exciting for you, though, was learning to ride a bike last summer. You took to it then as most children do. I think it gives you sense of freedom. Together with your friends you ride for hours, inventing games and imagining together.


That is another new thing for you this year: local friends. Your great imagination and your kind, gentle nature has always made you a favorite in our homeschooling crowd, but this year you found friends in our neighborhood with whom you’ve developed a different kind of bond. You and our backyard neighbor have been all but inseparable. Her parents even started calling her Hobbes. And now the boy from across her street has made your dynamic duo into the musketeers. The three of you light up an afternoon with your make-believe and sports games. I love to hear you all imagining a scene of play, talking out the rules to a game of your own, or even working out your differences together. It is a special kind of growth and learning and it gives me great joy to see you develop in this way.

For all of your hours spent at the bus stop this year, though, we are still homeschooling. I worried briefly that your new friendships would change how you felt about our arrangement, but you are still thrilled be learning at home. And now that our days start earlier, immediately following the coming of the bus, that is, they seem to go more smoothly and end earlier, giving you greater free time to fill on your own, which you do either with a good book, or in highly imaginative play entirely of your own design. Your imagination, and your pure joy in play, amazes and delights me.

And what are you learning this year? We study math, Spanish, music, and language arts daily, and geography, history, and science alternately through the week. Science during these warming months has been hours spent in the woods, falling in love with nature and all it has to offer. In math you are just now beginning Algebra I. You tell anyone who asks that your favorite subject is history, but I think it is actually language arts because that is where you spend your time most eagerly and energetically. You are an able and voracious reader, and your writing skill grows exponentially by the year. You play the piano with enormous feeling, and new to you this year is singing. You are the first child of an alumnus to return to The Boychoir of Ann Arbor, the group your dad sang in as a young boy, and your musical talent glows brightly there; just last week you were invited to sing with the advanced choir for the summer. You are as proud of yourself for this as we are, I believe, and very excited, too.

We are proud of you for many things, and delighted in the person you are becoming.

And as always, forever, we love you very, very much.

mom (& dad)

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