Kevin is 5 years old
You turned 5 years old last week. I’m a bit late in writing this year’s birthday memoir, but there was a lot going on! Your life turned upside down in the last month – we moved from London to California, you left your friends at Heathside School, and you started Kindergarten. You took it all in stride, as you always do.
Your fifth year started with “Reception” – the equivalent of Kindergarten at Heathside School in Hampstead UK. Reception lasted 7 hours, 5 days a week. You were exhausted for the first several months, napping hard on the weekends to make up for the lack of sleep. But you made new friends (Olaf, Kaijun, and Elexis were your favorites), learned how to read and write, and became obsessed with soccer and bicycling. You were exposed to a whole new world of activities and terminology. You ask where your jumper is, you talk about this bit and that bit, you ask “when can I have a go?” and you’re careful to throw your trash away in the rubbish bin. I can hardly wait until you ask your current California Kindergarten teacher if she has a rubber!
Your desire for perfection continues to grow. So, while you tend to take most things in stride, you get quite flustered and upset if you can’t do something, or think you can’t do something. And, given that you are quite talented and coordinated, usually you CAN do everything you try. But often your frustration leads to tears, and then you require mom’s or dad’s help to get through whatever it is you want to do.
You have a lot of talents – you are very close to dumping your training wheels on the bike, you can scooter through crowds on uneven hilly sidewalks, you can find your way to school and the grocery store, your drawing and painting is now recognizable by others. Your curiosity is insatiable – you want to know why and how for everything. We can see the wheels spinning in your head, trying to figure out how the toaster works or why a garage door opener doesn’t open everyone else’s garage door on the block.
You went through a spell where you took apart everything you could find – mostly toys. You tinkered with springs and motors and batteries and mechanically moving parts. Most of the time, you couldn’t get the toys put back together, but you learned a lot in the process.
Our time overseas allowed us to travel to many unique places. By the time you were 5, you’d visited 14 countries. Despite your somewhat timid and quiet nature, you were often the adventurous one. You ate fish eyes in Croatia, ate mussels in South Africa, and went down a slide in the middle of Lake Maggiore Switzerland. If we asked if you wanted to do something, you always said “yes” (unlike your obstinate brother!). You tend to enjoy most everything. You aren’t giddy with excitement or gushy with hugs and kisses, but you don’t dislike much of anything.
We went on a 1-week cruise around the Mediterranean in October 2011. We had a good first few days, then you got some stomach issues (food poisoning maybe?) which resulted in throwing up for 4 days straight and being quarantined to the room on the boat. Most kids would be climbing the walls in boredom, grumpy, and miserable. But you made the most of it. You plastered the room with stickers, played games on the iPad, read the same book 187 times, tried the life jackets on 6 different ways – all while keeping up your vomit-every-3 hours-round-the-clock rhythm. What a trooper.
You are a builder. You can build anything out of any substance. Snow, sand, cardboard, Styrofoam, toilet paper rolls. Just give you some tape or glue and scissors and you go to town. We have piles and piles of things you’ve made – each one different and oh so very important. Each contraption has triggers and levers and gauges and all sorts of complicated gizmos. When we went to the northern tip of Sweden for a snow-week, you dug caves and bomb shelters and made rockets and boats and igloos and chairs and trains. We spent a week on the beach in Portugal and you made the same things out of sand!
Where you really shine is with the Legos. You build amazing things with Legos. You have several “kits” of Legos. You’re able to follow the instructions, step by step, spatially aware of how the pieces fit together with barely a glance. After you make what’s on the box, you rip it all apart (or, Ryan often does that for you) and start again making something completely different using your own imagination. Most concoctions have wheels, guns, and rockets. And in general, your creations all stop bad guys or fly to space. You are fascinating to watch when there’s a box of Legos within reach.
You went through a long spell as a mad scientist. You and Ryan drug chairs into the kitchen and asked for any and all ingredients in the cupboard to make “experiments.” Flour, sugar, water, oatmeal, leftovers in the fridge, chocolate syrup, and lots and lots of food coloring. In the end, whatever you made was a lump of nasty, sticky, grey sludge. You often dared Ryan to eat some (and he probably did). You had a crazed look in your eye as the mad scientist. We were finally smart enough to send you outside with your experiments, and then we could dump the sludge in the bushes. For a “real” experiment, you and Daddy made a potato clock from a kit – a potato, battery, leads, and a digital display. That nasty rotten potato sat on your windowsill for weeks so you could know what time it was. We think you’d make a great scientist!
Just before your 5th birthday, you started noticing cars. In Hampstead, you learned to recognize Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, and BMW. Back in California, you now recognize every Prius, Ford Mustang, and Corvette. You know which ones are fastest and requested to rip off the “H” on our Honda and replace it with Ferrari’s horse (in addition to adding a giant spoiler to our minivan).
You have very good judgment for a 5 year old. I think you have an “old soul.” You just seem to know how to behave properly in all kinds of circumstances. You know when to be scared and when to be careful. Given how much you climb and push yourself, your intuition has saved you from getting hurt time and time again. You are an awfully sensible kid!
The new school year will bring some challenges and it’ll be interesting to see how you do. Your classmates are extremely competitive and serious and very smart. We hope you maintain your creativity and curiosity and delightful spirit that makes us admire you and love you so much.
Mommy & Daddy