Henry, 2nd grade. Every hint of little baby boy is gone. You haven't had front teeth since 2009, but you've finally grown into those holes in your mouth. You climb the walls like a monkey, in preparation for your future stint on Ninja Warrior. You still want me to watch you play video games. You ride a bike, tentatively. Your pups are your best friends, both stuffed and real. Your sister is your constant companion; you look to her for guidance on everything. You joke beyond your years, even things you don't understand. The other night you told your father his driving game was timeless. You can eat a whole box of Mac and Cheese, alone, and you sneak Fiber One bars when I'm not looking. Your favorite books are the Magic Treehouse series and you've seen every episode of Spongebob about 45 times. You can't keep a secret about your own bad behavior. You swim like a madman, slapping the water with each stroke and when you dive, your feet flip over your head. Your little back is brown and your hair is blonde for the first time since you were born. When I say I love you, you tell me back that nobody could ever love me more than you do.
Addie, 5th grade. This summer you got long. Your hair reaches the middle of your back and your face narrowed--almost suddenly--to this smart, beautiful big kid face. It catches me off guard. Last night you had butterflies about fifth grade; you were up three times before you slept. You're so like me, and I hope not in the most painful ways. You're midway through your first read of the Harry Potter series. You still play with toys, long stretches of pretend and drawn-out stories, but I know that's going to change soon. You protect your brother and shepherd all of your cousins. You ride and swim and dive like you've figured out how to use your body this summer, like the signals from the brain make sense to your limbs. You hate wearing your glasses. You keep a notebook of drawings that are each done with meticulous care. You still love berries, and sometimes I have to tell you not to eat more than one banana a day. Your favorite dinner is probably smoked chicken, and you're already old enough to know your dad's BBQ and smoker skills are top-notch. You're shy. Every night before bed, you find me and wrap your arms around me, your blonde head pressing into my stomach.