Today, just like the past two years, is your birthday my little boy who is turning into a bigger little boy. For the next 12 months, you will need 3 fingers to show your age.
Today is a Wednesday and the sun and clouds were playing a light game of chase. A soft breeze flowed all around us at the Horticulture Museum, or “la ferme!” as it’s known to you. This is where you wanted to be on the day of your birth. Among the animals and tractors and barns and countless other kids.
Every year, in the days leading up to the 9th of May, your mom and I look back at all the milestones you’ve surpassed. Each one is monumental simply because they are. There have been millions of little boys before you, and surely there’ll be millions more after, but— never in the history of the world has there been a “you”.
With every “new” that you do, your mom and I feel 2 deep and separate emotions. First we feel our hearts swell with pride, quickly followed by a slight ache. Pride, for the honour to be able to watch you come into your own. Ache, for the exact same reason. You see, there will come a time when you will be off on your own or with friends, and only later will we hear about your adventures…if at all. So these moments are precious to us.
When this year started, we had decided to move you into our bed. As a family, we shared a bed on most occasions. Sometimes, your mom or I would use your room to rest. In the dark, a little boy’s room full of fluorescent stars and woodland wall stickers looks about the same as any other room. We then slowly moved you back to your own room, after a ‘3 bedtime story’ minimum, you finally dozed off clutching your favorite doudou, a blue plush dog named, Monsieur Bonhomme. Sometimes, your mom or I would fall asleep before you.
The night is not especially a restful time for you. Since your early months, you have always awoken during the night, sometimes 3 or 4 times. It’s just the way it is. You have started dreaming much more now, sometimes we’d find you upright in your bed, crying or talking or a combination of both. Slowly, you’d be coaxed back to sleep, forgetting all the ills from moments ago. Oh, you’re a sweater. Always have been, within 2 hours of your sleep, your bed would be soaked as your body’s core temperature would match that of a race car engine. Long sleeve or short, pants or otherwise, it didn’t matter. Your grandfather is a sweater, your father is a sweater and now you are a sweater too.
Another physical quirk you have, started somewhere in your second year. Your teeth began getting a dark stain on them. It started on a couple of the molars, then it slowly jumped around your mouth. Daily brushing and normal dental hygiene has been powerless against it. Your mom and I fret over this, but your dentist says that it’s normal and is harmless. Out of (your parents’) vanity, we recently brought you to the dentist to have them polished. While you were very good in the chair, you did not like that experience at all. If the stains has diminished your smile at all, I would say that it is just 1 or 2 lightbulbs short of a 1000 watts.
From Monday to Friday, you are at your grandparents. You are still a year away from starting school. You are anxious about it, you know that your cousins and older friends attend school, so naturally you also want to attend. A couple times a week you attend a play group where your habits have changed a bit. You now welcome a playmate, you even seek it out. Before, you would be content in playing alone or with your grandparents or your mom or I. Friends are becoming more important to you. You adore your cousin Nico, he is your hero. You also adore Samuel, who lives across the street from us. Every time we leave the house, you look for him. Every time we come home, you look for him. You love playing with Sammy and his sister Evelyne. You love-love it.
What else do you love right now? You love being outside, trekking in the nearby forest. Together, we’d return from a hike covered in mud and dirt. You love building, drawing and painting. You love sports of all variety and animals of every kingdom. You love to help your mom bake. Together, in your aprons, you’d whip up the most wonderful cookies, breads and cakes. You love music, and dancing to it. You love jumping on your bed completely naked after your bath. You love watching animations. Love is an understatement. You LOVE Pingu, Wonder Pets, Max and Ruby, the Log Driver’s Waltz, Marianne’s Theatre, the Sweater, Asthma Tech and a plethora of other NFB titles.
You love to laugh, so much so that sometimes your laughing fits leads to a bout of the hiccups. You love to make others laugh, with facial antics or with a twist of a phrase. Our home is often filled with your delirious giggles.
No surprise, you now love sweets. Since the beginning, we have held off giving you too much sugar. So when you get it, you cherish it for a profound moment before you inhale it in a single gulp. Cookies. Ice cream. Cakes. All of it. You still love eating fruit, sometimes you even prefer it to sugary confections. Vegetables on the other hand, you’re not so head over heels for. Sometimes during dinner, you state how you already had veggies for lunch so it isn’t required to do so again.
Which brings me to the other things you state. French and Vietnamese are still your staples, English is slowly gaining ground. You can express your self quite well in English, sometime in a broken accented form. I secretly want you to have your accent for ever. I think it’s amazing. You ask what things are in English, you want to learn it. And learn it, you have.
Your command of language is a great source of pride and pain for us. You debate, you debate with a stubborn precision. It would take a great orchestra of distraction and confusion to convince you to do things sometimes. With your tongue, you love to tease and be mischievous. You know exactly when you’re being bad, and you revel in it.
There are times when we speak all 3 languages with you. Mostly when we’re trying to get you to obey us. These moments leaves all of us tired and weary.
Our home life has changed a bit since last November; I now work at home, focusing on the business your mom and I started. I still drop you off and pick you up at your grandparents, but this has allowed us to spend more time together in the mornings. We have breakfast together. This makes my day. If I have a meeting or need to make a phone call, I always set it after our breakfasts. I feel very lucky to be able to do this.
One big life event happened recently. You have entered the world of underwear. Since your 6th month, your mom and I have been “potty training” you. At first it proved fruitful, we thought you’d be out of diapers by the end of your first year. You then proved that your will is great. A few “controlled” accidents later, your mom and I went back to being dependant on diapers. Then came three weeks ago. We decided it was due time. Within a few days, you used the toilet either with us or on your own. Just like most of your milestones, it seems that you were always ready…as long as we were serious about it. You seem to be always be waiting for your oddball folks to be disciplined enough to lead you across a certain threshold.
This is our 3rd year together and honestly, we still don’t know what we’re doing. There are times when you are guiding us with more resolve and insight. While lots have changed, this fact remains the same.
Some other things haven’t changed either, you still offer a hug and a kiss with ease. Even when you are being playful and hold off when asked; with authenticity and strength, you would suddenly squeeze us and plant a dozen wet kisses on our cheeks with your tiny sharp lips. As you continue to find your place in this world. As you seek out love and learn how to give love, I hope this wonderful trait of yours never, ever changes.
Our boy, our son, our Loïc Hiêu.
— Love Ba