Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Sixth Birthday, Tommy

Dear Tommy,

Today you are six years old. I can hardly believe it. You're already up to my waist and I believe when you're a teenager you'll be towering over me. I watch you play sometimes and you'll catch me staring and look surprised. "Mommy," you'll say, covering your face. "Stop looking at me!" I'll explain that I'm staring because you're so handsome and because I can't believe you've gotten so big. I don't think you quite understand because you continue to cover your face until I look away.

I know your life hasn't been easy. I'm sure you're beginning to realize that some people find you different from others. You can be clumsy at times, but then again, so can your mother. While other kids might easily walk without tripping, you might traipse along and stumble over your feet and look awkward. When you get excited you flap your hands—I always used to find that cute when you were younger—I still do—and it was insulting to me when the professionals told me that it wasn't a good thing after all. "Maybe that's just how he expresses his excitement," I once said to one of those professionals. I felt like that I needed to stick up for you because in this world we live in everyone seems to want to diagnose, diagnose, diagnose.

Darling boy, I want you to know that it's okay to be different. You don't have to be like everyone else. In fact I think it gives you character to be different, to be the one flapping his arms in excitement. Instead of easily throwing a ball you might struggle with it but that's okay. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Because you can. It might just be in a different way. I know some kids might start to be cruel and this worries me because you are such a sensitive boy. Don't let other kids get you down. The kids that are mean will probably grow up to be unhappy individuals. Don't ever fight back, just keep your chin up and know that you are a good boy with a good heart.

Tommy, last night I watched this movie called Martian Child and the little boy in the movie reminded me of you. He was what other people would call different. There were people in the movie who called him weird and didn't understand him. It's something I know you have gone through. People have tossed strange looks in your direction when you walk by on your tiptoes and I'd just give them a smile and walk beside my special boy who dares to defy what "normal" is.

You are so smart. I watch as you put together your Legos in astonishment. Sometimes you get frustrated and shout out in anger. But you always figure it out and then show me a wonderful building that you've put together. You started doing this at the age of three and I was amazed how you'd make buildings or animals or even a boat. You also started writing your name at three which always confused those professionals who probably thought that you were incapable of doing such a thing. Your memory also amazes me—you remember things that I was so sure you would forget. You still talk about when we used to live in England and can point out England on a map without trouble. "We used to live there," you say seriously.

Tommy, I love you more than anything in this world. You were given to me for a reason. I will do all that I can to fight for you, to explain that even though you may seem different, that you're a wonderful kid.

What can I say? Maybe you are my little Martian child.

I love you and Happy Birthday,


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