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To Calvin, on your tenth birthday

Ten! Double digits!

You are so, so big. Nearly five feet tall, thin and athletic. You eat like a horse, play like an otter, and work like a little bee, though only when it suits you! It has been a wonderful year in many ways, and there is so much to remember and share.

We continued with your homeschooling this year. You are a quick and bright learner, but increasingly reluctant to put effort into things you don’t immediately see a benefit in. You love learning new things, but despise practicing once you believe you’ve mastered them. As our school year draws to a close you are fully parsing sentences, analyzing poetry, writing five paragraph essays with relative ease (if not relative interest), and reading voraciously at a nearly adult level. You have completed Algebra I, science 3-5, and world history up to the mid-nineteenth century. When you take an interest in something you attack with vigor, but a tendency toward easy boredom and apathy are your biggest challenges, and mine. It is hard to get you to work when you do not see the point.

You continued with both choir and piano this year and, to our great pleasure, seem to enjoy both greatly. This was your first year in the Boychoir of Ann Arbor Performing choir, and the schedule was the most rigorous you’d encountered to date, with long rehearsals two nights a week and practice at home. This January you auditioned for Young People’s Theater winter show, and learned a whole new dedication. It was a whim at the time, your audition, and though YPT is a local children’s theater organization, it turned out to be more selective, more professional, and more intense than we had expected. Hours and hours of rehearsals every week for three months culminating in four shows—two evening, two matinee—that were nearly Broadway quality. You loved it and worked very hard, and we were very proud of you, not just for your impressive performance in the show’s dance and chorus group, but also for meeting such a challenge head on.

Your involvement in the YPT show was just part of your continued growing up and away. You are developing life of your own, on your own. For the first time this year you expressed an interest in shopping for your clothing, and selected a specific hair style to wear as well. You almost unerringly choose to spend your free time with friends regardless of what other options we offer you. The kids in the neighborhood form your most frequent play group and you are always together when home. You love our Friday afternoons with our homeschooling group, too, and would spend any other days with those kids that are offered up. It gives us a warm feeling to see you develop in this way, and it is also freeing, as dad and I enjoy quiet evenings and afternoons together knowing that you are happy and having fun on your own. 

This is just a first step, and still a small one, toward our inevitable separating, and it is immeasurably wonderful to see you so well adjusted and socially prepared (see me thumb my nose at the naysayers who cautioned against homeschooling for its inadequacies in social training). You are a sensitive and caring child. You are patient with your friends’ younger siblings, and usually with your friends. You remove all creatures from the house with a cup and a piece of paper. We took you to a parks fishing event last summer but after spearing one innocent worm and watching the hook removed from the poor fish’s mouth you declared you’d had enough of that. You coo at almost everything living and feel no prejudice about young vs. old, carnivore vs. herbivore, fur vs. scales. This egalitarian attitude of yours tries my courage at times, but tugs at my heartstrings continually.

What a beautiful life we have, what a beautiful year it has been. And now you are ten. You have a whole day of fun planned for us that begins with hiking, continues with miniature golf, cookie baking, and our traditional evening downtown, picking out your birthday books and eating your birthday dinner of crab legs and key lime pie. 

We enjoy you. We enjoy spending time with you. We are proud of you. We love you. 

mom (& dad)

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