This is always such a daunting task for me. Trying to capture the whole essence of a child's life over a vast period of months seems almost impossible, especially when my precariously maintained notes are lost and I have to recreate the nuances of your character from memory.
So that it gets done, though, I'm just going to write the things that come to mind, in no particular order and in no particular format. Just remember: your childhood is better-documented than most, so I'm expecting you to be grateful no matter what.
Thing #1: You'd taken to using the word "ain't" recently. I suspect your usage is ironic, but I can't tell for sure.
Thing #2: Daddy woke up on a Sunday morning in May and stumbled into the kitchen to wish me a happy Mother's Day. Your eyes grew wide and you ran off to your bedroom, where I could see you standing in the center of the room, looking around frantically and exclaiming to yourself, "It's Mother's Day already and I haven't done a thing! What am I going to do?" (You ended up making me a Lego heart sculpture, Well played, my child. Well played.)
Thing #3: You are a marketing professional's dream. You LOVE and BELIEVE everything you see in television commercials. Over dinner, you'll casually ask, "How much are we paying for car insurance? Because you can save 15% or more with Geico." One day you spent a significant amount of time describing to me an amazing new invention called "Snackeez" that you had just learned about. "You can have a snack and a drink in one cup!" you explained. And then added, "After people know about it, Snackeez will be a big hit."
Thing #4: You're a second grader now! All summer I had some anxiety about your going back to school (concerns about the factory-style educational system squashing your spirit, confidence, and creativity), but so far, so good. You have an amazing teacher, Mrs. Miekle, who makes learning fun and interesting. You even sang me tidbits from a few of the songs you've learned in her class, which I loved, because I can't often elicit music from you.
Thing #5: One afternoon I noticed that you were wearing baggy red pants and a bleach-stained black shirt. You looked pretty homeless and I was like, "Soren, please tell me you didn't wear that to school today." "I did!" you said cheerfully. "And guess what? It was picture day!" Then you burst out laughing. "Guess I'll have to hide my pictures under the bed to scare away monsters!" (The latter statement was inspired by a favorite fictional character, Junie B. Jones.)
Thing #6: You are my favorite reading buddy. I love reading chapter books with you and am always so delighted by your responses to stories. We've recently read Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary, Soup, by Robert Newton Peck, and Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, and innumerable Junie B. Jones books (Barbara Park). With Grandma Hanson you have read Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Thing #7: You often use the phrase, "I know, right?" I just think it's so cute.
Thing #8: Out of the blue one day, you started talking about how a single, simple decision can shape an entire future. You were intrigued by the notion of creating a variety of alternate futures by making small changes in the present.
Thing #9: One afternoon you spent about 45 minutes riding around with Grandpa on his lawn mower. Afterward you told me, "It's kind of boring to do that, but I don't want Grandpa to get lonely."
Thing #10: On a sunny Saturday you expended some serious effort toward achieving your dream of flying. First you tried jumping off furniture and stairs. Then you started strapping on plastic bags to create some air resistance. You finally attempted to utilize the power of positive thinking, chanting, "I know I can! I know I can! I know I can!" throughout your various attempts. Later that evening you made up a song about flying that you sang to yourself while picking up for the night.
Things#11: When I came home from work one day (only to scoop up Liam and leave again for a t-ball game), Briar had shown you how to make cardboard eggs out of an egg carton. While Liam and I were gone, Briar filled your eggs with candy and you had an Easter egg hunt.
Thing #12: I'll be innocently minding my own business when all fifty pounds of your enthusiastic self are suddenly and unexpectedly flung at my body. I'll be struggling to catch my breath while you shout, "OH! I JUST LOVE YOU!" I'll laugh and nod and hug you back as you ask, "You know how you just get 'that feeling' sometimes?"
Thing #13: Every night before bed I used to give you 7 hugs and 7 kisses (one for each year of your age). You've decided that kisses are gross, so now we always do 14 hugs. I have to make sure that you're paying attention while we're hugging, however, or else you'll claim that the hugs never happened (I honestly think you don't remember) and request 14 more. At the end, it is our ritual for you to steal a few extra hugs while I tickle you and declare you to be a "stinker."
Thing #14: Your friend Aidaneh was over visiting one day when my phone alarm went off to remind me to take my daily anti-depressant. "Why do you have to take medicine?" she asked with concern. "Oh, it helps me keep from getting too sad," I told her, and you added, "And it keeps her from getting cry-y and angry!" (I suspect you were hearkening back to a time last winter when I tried to wean myself off my med, with undesirable results.)
Thing #15: Homework. I hate homework. I don't think you should be doing it at your age (though this is an opinion I keep to myself when you're around). You are also not a big fan. And so every evening we sit down ploddingly to tackle your pages of math and spelling and reading. One night you did two problems and then started to get distracted.
"Hey Soren!" I said. "Do this math problem." I pointed at a problem on the page.
You looked at it for a second. Then, cheerfully, you said "No."
And we both cracked up.
Thing #16: When it's not you who has afflicted suffering on your brother, you usually respond to his crying with a burst of empathetic tears/wailing of your own.
Thing #17: If I were an old man, I would say that you could "talk the hind leg off a mule."
Thing #18: Once you said this: "This bathroom smells like something that would come out of a dead ferret." I had to applaud the metaphor.
Thing #19: You love to make me laugh and will engage in all kinds of strange slapstick antics to elicit laughter from me.
Thing #20: You are your Grandma Hanson's boy. While Liam is always excited to join Grandpa while he runs errands and does whatever other things he does, you're always contented to stay with Grandma.
And those are all the Things I can think of, though I'm sure there's much more that I'm forgetting.
Child, I love you. I love watching you grow and unfold into the person that you are. You are a delightful human being, and I'm so grateful that I have been invited along for this crazy ride called your life. I dearly hope that you know that I will always be here for you, through all the ups and downs and detours and fender-benders and smooth riding and roll-overs and scenic routes and pit stops.
(^^^^^^^ Just hugs. No kisses.)
You couldn't even make a normal face for your first-day-of-school picture. I attempted to give you a Justin Bieber-style hairdo.
Another lost tooth. No, I'm not sure what's going on with your hair.
Milking a "cow" at the fair.
Lounging on your bed with your collection of one gazillion stuffed animals.
Just the gazillion.
Wrapped up in a burrito with your newly acquired giant bear, looking (literally) insanely happy.