Eleven.

Dear Danny, 

This letter is very late. A lesson I never thought I would learn is how being in a global pandemic affects creativity and drive. But here we are! 

I wonder what you will remember most about this time when you are an adult, and how it will shape the way your generation interacts with the world long term. Better late than never, though! You're already so mad about me having a hard time remembering your first word that I would not want to miss these milestones I've created. Haha.

We celebrated your birthday with our family again, since parties were not yet advisable. We had dinner at El Agave by your request, and they put the sombrero on you and gave you a heaping plate of churros. Afterwards, we headed home for cake and presents with your parents, Grandma Edie & Grandpa Paul. For the second year in a row we did things sort of small but it was big smiles and big fun.

Now, it is October and you are finally back in school after 18 months of seeing almost nobody. It has been quite the adjustment. The mental overload after so little stimulation, being around so few people, having so few tasks to juggle has been something that's taken a lot of getting used to. First semester just passed the halfway point and we're now finally to the point where you're settling in some and feeling a tad less overwhelmed.

While it's been an exhausting time in a lot of ways, it's also been good. You are so social, and you love being around other people, and other people love being around you. Since you were little, the other kids always celebrated your arrival, and wanted to be near you. I think it's because you have such an enthusiastic energy about almost everything. I didn't get to know my Grandfather (your middlenamesake) as much as I would have liked, but you remind me so much of him. Your thirst for knowledge, your musicality, your congeniality, and the spark in your eye. I think he would have loved you.

You are still one of the most curious people I know, and it's something I love so much about you. You want to know everything about everything. I am sure there are dozens of things you know more about than I do. Last night after you brushed your teeth, we played country-finding games on the computer. You knew as many of the countries in Africa and Asia as I did. You thirst for knowledge, you're the kind of person who knows a bit about everything. You are at your happiest when you're using your brain to discover. 

You always surprise me, even 11 and a half years in. My new coworker told me you look just like me and it made me happy. You've got hair that falls most of the way down your back, it's thick and silky, and I braid it for you at night to try and keep away the tangles. This year, you dove into middle school with abandon, signing up for band club, yearbook club, and even running for ASB Secretary. You didn't win, but I'm so proud of you for trying something new. You're playing the clarinet, and I can't wait for your first band concert in January. 

You are still my constant companion. You were doing better with sleeping but then all kinds of things changed again. I know that some people think it's silly to sit with a kid every night while they fall asleep, and to be honest, there are nights where I don't really want to. At the same time, I know it won't be forever, and I try to remember that you're going to need me less and less and one day I will miss the quiet moments on the edge of your bed listening to Taylor Swift or singing House at Pooh Corner to you by the glow of your green nightlight. 

In a lot of ways, you are the soft-hearted one - you feel big, just like I do. I hope that I can instill in you an appreciation for the big joy and love you'll be capable of experiencing but also teach you how to get through when that openness means feeling the hard things so deeply. It can be a difficult thing to navigate, but the flipside is that you get to feel amazing things.

Piano is still on zoom, and we've got a routine. You had your fall recital recently (I can't wait to hear you play on the grand piano and have recitals in person - hopefully soon). You're now playing songs that have elements I never mastered. I'm so glad you've stuck with it. You've been able to pick up the clarinet much more easily since you already read music. 

You love math and this year your least favorite subject is Social Studies because your teacher is a bit dry and lecturey. You aren't super challenged by school, but still seem generally engaged. I thought you'd be a sports kid as you grew, but now I think you're probably going to be a band kid, which will be quite interesting.

Aside from Scott and I, you spend a lot of time with your Grandma Edie. She is like another parent for you, and I love that you have another safe person and safe space in your life. Your bond with her is wonderful. You got to go to Colville to see your Aunt Kira & Cousins Nora & Lila 3 times this year, and recently you've been asking me about when we can go back. 

Your relationship with your cousins is magical, the each time you meet it's like no time has passed. It makes me miss my cousin Emaleigh and think of days on the Ocean City Boardwalk, in her dorm at George Washington University, the perfect sunsets behind Phish at the Gorge, and roaming Reading Terminal Market. I hope these beautiful moments continue into your adulthood, and you stay thick as thieves.

My heart aches and bursts with the knowledge that you are on the precipice of not being a kid anymore. You have your own phone now and the other night you set up your voicemail message. You message with your friends sometimes. You still tell me about almost everything, but I can imagine that in a year or two you'll be leaving me in the dust. I'm happy for you because I think you're going to relish it, but it will be very strange to let out that line.

At the same time I look forward to parts of it, I know that our separation is going to affect us both deeply and profoundly. I am excited to see what you will do. Parents tell their children all the time that they can do anything they want to do, and I have no doubt that's true for you.

Love, 
Mom

Favorites!

Favorite Book:  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Song:  Still digging Taylor Swift, also listening to Owl City
Favorite Board Game:  Recently we've played Sorry, Blokus, and Guess Who
Favorite Video Game:  Minecraft is making a resurgence, we play together
Favorite TV Show: Still the Fox animated shows, but you recently started watching your first non-kid show: FBI. You are into it!
Favorite YouTubers:  Grian, Mumbo, Scar, Daniel Thrasher
Favorite Food:  Chips & Guacamole, Chips & Sauce, Bacon, Sausage, Pizza, Burritos
Favorite Dessert: Drumsticks, Smarties
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House: Mini-golf? We have been outside the house much less this past year.
Favorite Subject at School: Math
Best Friends:  I don't know as many of your friends now, and you mostly see them at school. I know you are friends with Cas!

Ten
Nine
Eight
Seven
Six.
Five.
Four.
Three.
Two.
One.
Birth Story.