Friday, September 16, 2011

Best 7YO Ever

JEB age 3 days

Dear John,

Happy Birthday Big Kid.  It’s simply impossible that you’re seven.  But, as you verified this morning, you’ve been six for WAY too long, and it’s time to move on.

JEB age 1
 A couple nights ago, you asked me to tell you a story about when you were little.  It being your birthday week and all, I decided to tell the story of the days preceding your birth.  I left out the part about how we were somewhat homeless and living in a weekly-rate, mom-and-pop hotel on the border of Wisconsin & Minnesota.  Although come to think of it, you would’ve loved it there.  The owners lived there with their several kids, and a bunch of chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, and bunnies that seemed to have become accustomed to –and maybe even enjoyed – jumping on the trampoline.

JEB age 2
During this time, I was teaching some online courses and trying not to obsess about the fact that they didn’t have epidurals at the hospital where you were to be born.  I mostly stayed in the hotel room all day, watching the 2004 Summer Olympics, waiting for your dad to come home, cooking on a hot plate, and trying to keep away from the cigarette-smoking construction workers who were also living at the hotel.  I sincerely hope that your asthma was not exacerbated by my inhalation of their 2nd-hand smoke.  I obsessed about that too.
JEB age 3

So the other night for your bed-time story, I told you the part of our tale that begins after we had moved out of the hotel and were living in a furnished home owned by the St. Croix Scenic Riverway, where your dad was working as a ranger.  It was a small house on the high banks of the St. Croix River (which, unfortunately, wasn’t visible due to overgrowth).  There was only a gravel road leading up to the house.  The neighbors were sparse, but we were pretty much next door to Walter Mondale’s summer home.  The Mondales didn’t have interesting pets or young kids or a trampoline, but they also didn’t stand around smoking  or really even live there most of the time. 

JEB age 4
I told the story of how we waited and waited and waited for your arrival – 9 days past your due date.  And then Grandma (your dad’s grandmother whom you now call Mimi), suggested that I try taking some castor oil.  It had worked for all three of her children and Dr. Google didn’t have too many horror stories about using it to induce labor, so I tried it.  On September 15, 2004 at approximately noon, I took 2 ounces of castor oil mixed in orange juice. 

At this point in the story, you interrupted me to ask if there was going to be any guns or fighting or funny stuff.  I assured you that it would not disappoint.

I knew it would not disappoint because one of your favorite plot lines for a good story is poop.  And as everyone knows, all stories about castor oil end with poop.  In my case, an explosive two hours of poop, which left me exhausted and still pregnant.

This fascinated you. 

“You had a major diarrhea attack while I was IN YOUR TUMMY?!?!?”
JEB age 5


“Did I come out with like, diarrhea all over me?”

“No, thank goodness.” 

“But, how was I living in there around all that poop but not poopy?”

At this point I thought it appropriate to explain about the amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby and I also threw in some information about the purpose the umbilical cord and its connection to belly button creation.

JEB age 6
“Did they cut the cord with Dad’s pocket knife?  Didn’t that hurt me?  Did I cry so much that I pooped?  Whose bombs are worse—mine when I was a baby or Sam’s now?”

“Go to bed.”

“Is that the end of the story?”

“Yes.  I love you.  Good night.”

“But you haven’t said how MUCH you love me yet.”

JEB age 7

And so I said what I say to you every night.  What I mean from the bottom of my heart (which also is not poopy even though it is also in there near to where you were, and are still):  “I love you VERY much.  Nothing you could ever say or do would make me stop loving you.  I want you to have sweet and long dreams.  I’ll see you when you need me; if you need me call me, and I’ll be right here.”

And that was the end of my story, but the beginning of yours.

I love you GOBS and BUNCHES,


p.s.  In addition to my annual birthday letter, I have attached another letter—one that nominates you for the Best 7YO Award, which is given out every year by the NAASP (National Association for the Advancement of Seven-Year-Old People). Below is a draft of my nomination letter.


Dear NAASP Best 7YO Committee:

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation for John E. B.  After working with John for more than 7 years, I can confidently say that I know him better than just about anyone.  During this time, I have been John’s direct supervisor.  In this position, I have helped to oversee his life planning, assisted with homework, facilitated extracurricular activities, corrected his proclivity to make rude digestive noises served as politeness coach, created his chores, and watched his interactions with both friends and foes.  And through all of that, I have learned that one thing is true about John E.B.:  He excels in absolutely every respect.  In short, J.E.B. is an outstanding seven year old worthy of accolades.

I believe that John would be an excellent candidate for the NAASP’s Best 7YO Award.  In our family’s working environment, John is always a superlative example of all activities.  He’s won numerous inter-familial awards, including Smartest, Loudest Most Boisterous, Funniest, Most Hardworking, and Most Persistent.  He has extreme focus, but he can also be silly.  He’s a problem-solver and a helper-outter and he has a great nose to sniff out 3-week old misplaced dirty diapers many types of unknown, malodorous, household/automobile oddities. 

In addition to his time spent under my supervision in our home, John has 5 years experience in pre-K, and one year in kindergarten.  This sundry experience speaks directly to his ability to work with both children and adults, manipulate learning objects, and create all sorts of ways to entertain himself.  John’s favorite school activities are recess, lunch, and gym.  (Although he gets “E” for excellent in nearly every category of every report card.)  His teachers and friends have only mostly good things to say about him, and often praise his ability to make jokes about work well with people of different ages, sizes, intelligence levels, and diverse cultural backgrounds. 

To illustrate John’s academic prowess, humility, and general loveliness & potential, I’d like to share one of my very favorite moments this past year. 

John attends a Spanish-immersion school.  So after a whole year of kindergarten, we were understandably worried when his dad came home one day and said, “Hola!” and John replied, “What’s ‘hola’?”  

We sent him to the neighbor’s house to find out.  He came back completely unphased and announced that it means “hello” in Spanish but that he already knew that.  So I said, “I’d like to hear you speak Spanish more.” 

Two weeks later we stepped out the door on the way to 1st grade and he said, “Ay- yay- yay!  Hace muy calor ý sol!”  (Oh my goodness! It’s SO hot & sunny!)

And what other seven-year-old child has such critical thinking skills to respond to the phrase “We have to go now” with, “I’m NEVER  going to do anything fun again because then it has to be OVER and we have GO.  We ALWAYS have to go, so I HATE doing fun stuff.”

One of the things I most admire about the way John behaves is that he remembers to use his manners.  He is particularly good about consistently and appropriately using the following phrases:

·         “Excuse me?”

·         “May I be excused?”

·         “Can I clear your plate for you?”

·         “Thanks for doing my silverware job!”

·         “Ooh!  A package!  I need to send a thank-you card for this!”

·         “I’m so sorry.  I’ll try to do better.”

Moreover, John is absolutely meticulous about keeping practically everything we’ve ever gotten out of a happy meal but nothing we really need his material possessions organized.  Having supervised way more children than I should have two different children in my current position as Mother, I can say that John has been the most consistent in retrieving rotten boiled eggs snacks & toys from underneath the seat of the car, submitting laundry items to various household departments, and being 100% 95% in charge of the silverware drawer.  He keeps his crayons neatly sprawled on the dining table for ease of use, always has some Scotch tape handy, and is completely obsessed with ever at the ready with his pocket knife.

Finally, John is a phenomenal teacher.  In just 7 short years he has taught our family things that we never could’ve imagined in our most insane nightmares no other human being could have provided for us as parents:  How to love and laugh better, how to invoke consequences rather than punishment, and how to manage the complexities of having a wild, stubborn, smarter-than-us spirited, persistent, forward-thinking child.  Without him, neither his father nor I would have matured into any sort of halfway-decent adult.  With him to love, we have evolved into pseudo-patient people who throw fewer tantrums think less of ourselves and more about others.  And we have at rare times even found MUCH joy in learning these life lessons.

Overall, John is a dedicated 7YO with a real passion for winning participating in all games/sports, practicing ONLY the Star Wars theme song his lessons on the piano, building marble tracks, and torturing having fun with his family & friends (especially his baby brother).  He is also highly self-motivated, responsible, professional, and yet, above all, FUN.  I recommend John E. B. for the Best 7YO Award in the highest possible terms.


Kimberly P.B.

Kimberly P.B.

Unbiased Mother

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1 comment:

Melany @ Project Anthologies said...

Ah - one of your best ever. Happy Birthday to our dear little friend that we miss SO much.