An Open Letter to My Sons on Their Fourth Birthday

Muppets 4

Dear Search and Destroy,

Happy Birthday. You get it this year – buzzing with excitement, bouncing with anticipation.

You are such spirited boys, teaching your father and I so much about the world as we rediscover all around us through the magic of a preschooler’s eyes, all while creating the whirlwind of trademark muppet mayhem around you.

How far we’ve come.

Prematurity is no longer at the forefront of my mind every day. Yet in a fitting tribute to your early birth, this week’s Time Magazine featured a cover picturing a NICU babe with the headline, “Saving Preemies.” The story was an in-depth examination of the amazing neonatal care now available to the tiniest patients.


“In 1960 the survival rate for an infant born below 3.3 lbs was 28%, fifty years later it jumped to 78%. TIME magazine’s SAVING PREEMIES looks at how today’s cutting–edge medicine and dedicated caregivers are helping the tiniest babies.”

A duo born at 2 pounds each, you two didn’t just survive, you’ve thrived.

This year, I was all about celebrating your arrival. (Although punctuality is still a lesson we’re going to work on.)

Today is a calm day, a routine day-in-the-life. We exerted all the energy we had celebrating your most recent milestone this past weekend. You thought the theme was superheroes because you presently love your Superman and Batman toys.

In truth, it was because you remind me every day that sometimes superheroes don’t wear capes.

You two continue to present yourselves to the world as forces of nature – reality and imagination, earth and heaven, physical and spirit, control and abandon, flight and return, seek and destroy.

You are both the amalgamation of the fictional characters created to portray traits already inherent within you. Your superpower is undoubtedly life. Never forget to live it.

With idealism and compassion guiding you, you demonstrate a resolute firm knowledge of what you believe is right and wrong, while still struggling with the concept of what is practical.

Physical prowess, deductive (and destructive) abilities lead you to a stealthy and intense perseveration on the more mischievous campaigns designed only for a team of double trouble who never shy away from a battle worth fighting.

As your mother, I will do everything within my power to plant the roots to keep you grounded and the branches for you to climb. May you never lose your inherent tenacity to test the waters, reach for the skies, and gain the skills, experience and courage to swing freely.

I know you have it in you; you’ve spent four years proving your resolve to forge your own trajectory.


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter of fact about the ice storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May not fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

– Birches, Robert Frost

1 Comment

Filed under Birthday, Milestones

One Response to An Open Letter to My Sons on Their Fourth Birthday

  1. Happy Happy Birthday, Search & Destroy 🙂

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