Today you are seven years old. One of the big kids now.
But you're far from turning jaded or sullen. Not you.
Your primary mode of transport is skipping. You sing your heart out, just for your own entertainment, without a drop of self-consciousness.
You are almost always in the midst of improvising an action adventure movie or a comedy skit.
"This is the part where we're running away and the cave is collapsing and there's going to be an avalanche. Ready? Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!"
"Mommy, I'll take a drink and then you tell me something surprising and then I'll spit it out. Okay! Go!"
When, occasionally, you can't find the words for something, you come up with your own, infinitely more interesting, way to say it.
"Do you want to know why I didn't finish my breakfast? My food microbes are not at 100 percent."
You know all your math facts and frequently correct adults' grammar, yet you still seem to enjoy school, thanks to a teacher who (most of the time) lets you sneak away to the bookshelf when your classmates are parsing "the cat sat on the mat" and asks you to read aloud to the class while she needs some time to prep.
The kids in your first grade class seem to like your charisma (that we adults call "bossiness"), your boldness (that we adults label "tactlessness"), your array of movie quotes for any situation. More than one boy has boasted to me at pick up time,"Ben is my best friend."
You're starting to ask yourself the Big Questions. Sometimes, you take out the kids' bible we bought you and you study it for a long time - the stories of kings and battles, angels and miracles. You rarely want to talk about it with me, except the occasional question that tells me you are grappling with these mysterious stories in your own way.
"Mommy, why were people so mean in Noah's time?"
"Did these things actually happen?"
I know that you've inherited my skill for imagining the catastrophic. You worry about things going wrong, about losing control of yourself. You invent worst-case-scenarios that hook themselves into your brain.
"Mommy, what will happen if I go to a play and I shout a grown-up word so loud that the actors hear me and the actor comes off the stage and yells at me?"
Sometimes, you're afraid of making mistakes, of not being perfect. And sometimes, you need the people around you to be perfect, too.
Despite this, you are learning that most of the time it's better to say "Oh well." or "I'll be okay." than come apart. And every day that gets a little easier.
And most days you have a smile on your face when you get up in the morning and a smile on your face as you get into your bed at night. Usually, because you're recalling something funny from a book or a movie or your own imagination.
You already have so much of what you'll need in this life.
You already have so much of what I wish for you.
Intelligence, creativity, compassion and most of all, joy.
Happy birthday to my big kid, my sweet boy.