A Little Late on Eight

Dear Charlie,

Two weeks ago you turned EIGHT!

It was a weird birthday because it was also the last day of school before the governor shut down Michigan’s schools until at least April 6. My district actually didn’t have school Friday, but I am so glad you did. It was just a half-day, but you were able to bring in your birthday treat that we baked together and see all your friends and teachers one last time before going into this shut down we are currently in.

You requested dad grill hamburgers and for me to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and batman on them. We did not disappoint!

In total Charlie Fashion, you took your shirt of in order to blow out your candles that you insisted we put all in one cupcake. I don’t know what you wished for before you blew those suckers out, but I hope it comes true.

Dad and I got you a new bike for your birthday. You were getting a little too tall for your old one, so we decided it was time for an upgrade. You were very excited that you still have a red bike, but this on has handbrakes and, according to you, goes SUPER FAST.

This past year has been full of big things: In the spring of 2019, you qualified for special education services at school for your emotional impairment of anxiety. With your new IEP goals and accommodations, you have made some tremendous leaps forward in coping mechanisms and work completion at school. Dad and I continue to be so proud of you. We know things that seem easy or routine for some people just aren’t for you. And you still try. You still work through it. You are so tough!

That is not to say there haven’t been some challenges. You are definitely teaching me and Dad that not all kids can be parented the same. You are helping us learn to be equitable parents to you and your siblings. Because even when we identify what you need and how it might be different from what Alice needs or Eddie needs, there still has to be a level of equity. Daddy and I have had to learn to say, “I just don’t know.”

Let me tell you a little about yourself:

You love sleep and to be warm and cuddley, but you despise being hot and uncomfortable and would prefer to sit around in your underwear if we let you. We do not.

You are all the way on the left on the bench.

You love to play outside and be active. You were in soccer in the fall and loved it. Once that was over and the weather started to get yucky, that is when we saw and uptick of having a negative attitude toward school and yourself. Keeping you active is key!

You love stuffed animals more than almost anything else in this world. You have like a million of them living in your top bunk. At night you hunker in under them and sleep as if you are all one pack. You love that you are unique, but you are also self-conscious about it.

You started piano lessons in January. You love them. You love having a talent that your older brother does not have. You also love that it’s one more thing that you and I have in common. Since this whole quarantine thing started, Mr. Costello has offered to do your lessons via Zoom, but you are super uncomfortable with that. You can’t really describe why, but you get very anxious around video calls too. But it’s Ok. You can continue to practice what you know, and when this health scare lifts, you can go back to your weekly lessons with Mr. C.

You want to play the drums someday and hope Mr. C will continue to be your music teacher for that too. In fact, dad got out Guitar Hero for the old Wii and you have found a new musical thing to love.

You love to be silly and make people smile. You also love to try to think about things in ways other people might not. You try to see new uses for things that other people might not think of too. You strive to be innovative and creative all the time.

Charlie you have always been, and continue to be, my very favorite middle child. I can honestly say hanging out with you is fun and that we always have really interesting conversations.

We are different in a lot of ways, but the ways in which we are the same bond us in a way that we just can’t bond with anyone else.

I love being your mom and I am so proud of you.

Mom Mom

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.