You're upstairs sleeping right now. You were tired, but excited. Excited that tomorrow, you will turn 5. Five. You'll be in kindergarten next year. I just finished your brownies to take to preschool tomorrow. No peanuts, of course. Daddy is out in the garage building your new bike. We'll help you learn how to ride it without training wheels. We'll try to catch you before you fall. Sometimes we won't be there in time though, Max. Don't get angry with us. We'll try.
Sometimes, Max, you're going to fall. Mommy and Daddy will let you fall. You have to fall in life so you can get back up and be a stronger man. Right now, we're teaching you to be a polite little boy. Don't yell. Don't pick your nose. Don't fart in public. Be nice to your little brother. Don't scratch your regions. Girls don't have cooties. Jesus loves you. Tie your shoes. Don't hit. Don't say bad words; even though you tell us boys can say bad words but girls can't. Eat your veggies, not too many sweets. Brush your teeth, up and down, back and forth. Wipe your bum. Make your bed. You spell your name M-A-X. Look before you cross the road. Hold my hand. Don't let go ... yet.
When you hurt yourself, you're still my little boy. You cry. You reach out to me. You hold me really tightly. I will never let go of you.
But Max, you're growing up. You'll be adding double-digit numbers, reading chapter books, playing football or soccer, going to sleepovers, watching PG-13 or R-rated movies, asking me embarrassing questions, learning to drive. You'll make it to the bathroom before you get sick, you'll get pimples, you'll care about what your hair looks like, what clothes you wear and God help me, your sneakers. I'm not ready for that, dear son.
I'm not ready for you to grow up. I'm not ready to be a mom to a growing son. I can still carry you. You still let me wipe your nose. I can still put you in time out, wag my finger at you, scold you, pat your bum if needed.
Sometimes when it has been a very rough day with you, I think of those people who goggle at you in the grocery store. They tell me you look like Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" and to cherish these times. Well, at the end of a long day, I don't want to cherish them. I want you to grow up. I want you to listen, do things the first time, not hit, not yell. I want you to be a good big brother and lead your little brother in the right direction.
But we have to lead you in the right direction first. Mommy and Daddy are trying. Max, trust me when I say we're doing the best we can. It's OK if you don't get everything you want. It's OK to want in life. You must work hard to get what you want and even then, you might not get it. Trust in the Lord God with all your worries. Jesus loves you. Be satisfied with what you have, what we can give you, what you will earn, not necessarily with what you want. You will only earn what you deserve. Make good decisions based upon fact. Not based upon someone else's opinion. Form your own opinions. It's a free country, you can. Be strong in who you are and who you choose to be. Respect your teachers, thank them and know they're doing the best they can. Wear clean boxers every day. Call your friends' parents Mr. and Mrs. Don't cheat at board games or on tests at school. Don't roll your eyes or suck your teeth. Wear your pants around your waist, not your hips. I know you'll try cigarettes. It better just be a try. I know you'll drink before you're 21. Please make trustworthy friends to be with when you do so. Study hard. Train hard. Pray hard. Learn how to change diapers and pack for yourself. White clothes hot water, colored clothes cold water. Always make your bed. You better not get a girl pregnant unless she is your wife. Wipe your feet. Use coasters. Put the seat down. It's OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Make good choices. Don't judge unless you have the knowledge to make a judgment. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Try to think before you speak. Be the absolute best you can be in everything you do. There will be people in your life who do not like you, love you, appreciate you, accept you. You will feel the same way about other people or perhaps the same people. That's life. Penn State University is the best. Harvard isn't too bad either.
Hershey's Chocolate, not Nestle. Coke, not Pepsi. Toilet paper runs over the holder, not under. Take out the garbage. Wash the car. Mow the lawn. Shovel the snow. Help out your elderly neighbor. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Always question. Open the doors for women. Ask your future wife's father first.
Max, I could go on. Please know Daddy and I love you. We will love you no matter what.