Dear Little Mitch,
I can’t believe you’re going to be four years old soon, little man. It seemed like only yesterday we finally got to bring you home after thirty three long days in the hospital. You came to us two months early, you were only 3 lbs 7 oz, roughly the weight of a five pin bowling ball or small frying chicken.
From the first few days in the hospital you displayed a obstinate single minded tenacity that continues to equally inspire and times frustrate me. When you were in hospital we once watched you struggle to kick off a blanket for forty five minutes. You fell asleep from exhaustion a few times during the fight but eventually you kicked the blanket off and went back to sleep. When you came down with jaundice, the doctors put you under some ultraviolet lights for a few days. They put a blindfold on you to protect your beautiful but underdeveloped brown eyes. We got home later that night and called the hospital to see how you were doing before we went to bed. The night nurse said with a humorous faux frustration, “He keeps pulling the darn blindfold off, we had to tape it to his head!” We got back to the hospital the next morning to see the night nurse fashioned a few straps of medical tape to the sides of the blindfold making it look like an old leatherhead football helmet so you couldn’t pull it down. The night nurse said she had never seen a more determined stubborn baby like that before, as she looked down at you in the incubator your skinny little fingers were still clutching at that blindfold. After that, all the nurses knew you as “the stubborn little fighter.”
You still display that determination, be it wanting to go to the store for candy, not wanting to wear a shirt I picked out for you, or asking for six straight days to have a campout in the living room, once your mind is made, it is set in stone. Don’t ever lose that.
A week after your birthday you start school. You’re excited and ready to go. I am not. I was not expecting this for another year but as you’ve done since the day you were born you do everything a little bit early, and you continue to surprise me with your abilities. I know you’re ready for school. Somedays, you ask more questions than I know answers to, and I admit at times it does get exhausting. Really, you can only answer so many questions of who has butt holes in our family, I changed the subject after we listed the anuses of mommy, daddy, the cat, Grandma, Pappa H, Nanna, and Pappa P. You have this incredible thirst for knowledge that at times I struggle to quench. Don’t ever stop asking questions.
You’re developing you’re own sense of humour right now and I am loving it. You’re even starting to make your own jokes. “So daddy, one time I was riding my magic jumping bike. I was riding and I was bouncing as high as the light post. One time I jumped so high I hit the light and fell off my bike, and I scraped my nuts!” Premise, setup and punch line, not bad. Right now a lot of your humour revolves around your butt, farting and your testicles. For some comedians that’s their bread and butter, they cultivate an entire career out of that. Don’t ever stop making me laugh.
As a father, there is no greater joy for me than sharing my heroes with you. Since I was your age, Superman was and continues to be my hero. It wasn’t the flying, the strength, or the costume. It was that Superman always inherently knew what to do. He never hesitated, he just knew what was right and did what he needed to do for the better of mankind. It brings me no greater joy than to see you in your Superman pajamas, now faded, pilled and a little too small, jumping off the couch flying.
My other heroes are my heroes because I learn as much from their victories as I do their failures. Last fall, Sundays became our day. We would get up early and have breakfast. Then, still in our pajamas, we would walk to the corner store to make a two dollar bet on that day’s football games. You would always come home with your own little lotto pencil and blank ticket you scribbled on. We would then spend the morning watching football and doing laundry. Last season my favourite player Brett Favre was having one of his best years in his nineteenth year of football at the age of forty with the Vikings.
As the season went on he became your favourite player too. The most memorable game to watch with you last season was the Vikings-Saints championship. We cheered together, we laughed together, we yelled at the TV together, we both screamed “No!” when Favre threw that agonizing interception. It was an excruciating loss. Easily one of the most painful sports losses of my life but that’s not what I remember that game for. I remember that you said that it was okay we’ll watch Favre play next Sunday. I explained to you that Favre’s season was done and no one knows if he’ll come back next year. You cried, you were so upset that we might not see Brett Favre play again together.
The season didn’t matter, the playoff loss didn’t matter, the game didn’t matter, the damn interception didn’t matter. As I held you crying I felt so grateful that I was blessed to share my hero and the gift of that moment with you that my hero gave me. Don’t ever stop believing in your heroes.