And Now You Are Three

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Congratulations, Owen. Three years down and a lifetime ahead of you. I am writing to you on your third birthday to tell you how exceptional you are. Actually, Jack will be getting a similar letter explaining what he means to me. However, this essay is about you and what you bring into my life. You are at the beginning of your journey down the yellow brick road of life, and I have spent over seven decades on that road. As a result, I see and appreciate a great deal more than I would have years ago.

I have written and talked about you and Jack being a radically different experience for me. I love my children and older granddaughter, but at 72-years of age, something has changed experientially for me. I will not rewrite the repository of my self-analysis here. You can read my essay some other time. Nonetheless, what happens with my relationship with you and your brother, I do not completely fathomed it, but I enjoy it immensely. It is something that I want to last for many more years. Therefore, here is what I see in you that I cherish so much.

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Description: Al reading to Owen

Description: Uh-oh, I might be in trouble after the party...but it was fun.

Description: Owen planting

Description: Owen picking pumpkins

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You are caring. Adults do not normally think of toddlers as being particularly caring children, but you are. Here is an example. I had you and Jack taking rides on my back as if I were a horse. We would make laps around the playroom in the basement. You would ride on my back and then Jack would. This lasted for a half-hour until it was time for lunch or some other event that ended our playing horse. As Jack ran upstairs, he turned and told me to hurry. Half under my breath, I said that I was coming, but that I was just getting old. You got off my back, went to the stairs, and waited. I stood up slowly and came to the stairs. You turned, extended your hand to me, and said that you would help me up the stairs. That act of caring was done when you were about 2½. That is remarkable. While you are too young to remember, I will never forget it.

You are quiet and sit back while observing life played out in front of you. You do not rush into the experience without first observing life and doing a mental calculus of the moment. You like to achieve a sense of understanding prior to getting involved. Once you grasp the situation, you act. However, your forethought enables you to enjoy the moment more beneficially.

You are patient. An example of your patience is seen when I come down to Indy weekly to take care of you and Jack. The first and last thing that I do with you and Jack is to hug and kiss you. You stand patiently waiting for Jack to be picked up, hugged, and kissed. Then I pick you up and kiss you. Having done that, you then cuddle your head against me for a moment without moving while enjoying the moment.

A similar dance is done when you go to take a nap or go to bed for the night. I tell you to pick out a book from your library for me to read. It is fun to watch you make your selection. You look as earnest as Isaac Newton looking for a scientific volume on physics. When you finally pick your book, you sit on my lap and lean back against me while I read your choice for that day.

I do not recall when we started to chat for a couple of minutes after reading the book. However, the dance begins with my putting the book down and turning you around so that we are sitting looking directly at each other as we talk. We have done that so often, that as soon as I put the book down, you turn around and sit there looking at me. I tell you about something that I love about you. Then you cuddle your head against me. During this quiet time that we share, you say nothing; you are just aware of the moment.

An interesting aside about this time together is that when you cuddle, I will smile and close my eyes. I too wish to enjoy the moment. Then after a couple of minutes, I will pick you up, put you in your crib and tuck you in, and tell you that I love you. However, over the past couple of years, I have fallen asleep with you in my arms as we cuddle.

Owen, you also have a sense of humor. We were building the Great Wall of China in your play area next to the kitchen. You enjoyed helping Jack.

Description: Jack and Owen building together

However, you completed the project and sat next to the wall while inching your foot closer and closer to the wall in an attempt to destroy what you had created. You sat there and smiled knowing that I knew what you were doing. It was a precious moment for both of us. We both knew what the other was thinking.

Description: Owen thinking

Another aspect of your sense of humor is when you were less than a year old, I would be giving you finger food. One day, I did the same that I have done with Jack. I opened my mouth indicating that I wanted you to feed me, which you did. It was a precious moment. However, several months later, you would pick up some finger food acting like you were going to feed me but then would pull it away. You would laugh and laugh. I too enjoyed that moment also.

Owen, you are adventuresome, a risk taker. When you were still crawling, you would be sitting on my lap and start crawling down my leg headfirst. You did that with everyone. If you wanted to explore the world, off you would go. You would climb over furniture or boxes without a care about falling. A couple of weeks ago, I was standing talking to your parents in your driveway. You were in the garage starting to climb up on some shelves, which contained some of yours and Jack's toys. Your mother just shook her head as she told you to get down. I too am a risk-taker. Apparently, it is in our blood...but be careful.

There is a tradeoff with risk-taking. You often get to where you want while others do not have the courage to attempt something. However, you will often pay a price like falling. Nonetheless, it is still better to live life to the fullest than merely to vegetate your years away.

Last Halloween, you wanted to decorate your face. Therefore, you posed for this picture having expressed your Picasso-esque urge to create. I do know what your parents thought of your creativity, but Picasso was correct about children being creative.


Another thing that we do that I love is to go for walks together and spend quiet time with each other. Sometimes, we talk. However, much of the time, we merely enjoy the moment in silence. I would love to be able to know what you are thinking at those times. What is rolling around in your head?

Description: Al and Owen

You are smart and intelligent. You enjoy looking at the Arts and Science textbook that I made for Jack. You are doing what he first did. You love van Gogh's painting, The Langlois Bridge at Arles. Jack loves Chagall's I and the Village. It intrigues me to try to understand what fascinates you in any piece of art.

Time will tell whether you become a great painter like van Gogh, but you are good at flower arranging already. This is you working on a Mother's Day gift for your mother.

Description: Owen

These are observations of a toddler who has just reached the ripe old age of three. Go out into this world and enjoy the experience, every moment that you can. Happy Birthday, Owen. I love you.