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Dear Kid A,

You are so totally yourself.

It has been eight years since that one first siren cry and the stunned silence afterward. You took stock, sucked on your fists, and deigned to stay with us.

I don't really know how to write about your unwavering ferocity toward life, the way you barrel forward, with your list of the top ten countries you want to visit, your wide eyes, your exuberance. Your melancholy. You are a boy of opposites, quick to laugh and get a joke, quick to notice the discrepancy between want and fulfillment. Even at eight, you get it.

Your attitude toward travel inflames all of us with love for it, I'm thankful to travel with you. I love your kindness and your thirst for knowledge.

Since we moved to India, you mythologized your best friend, the kid you'd known since you were born. And then when you saw him again, he turned out to be what you were hoping for. I don't know how you do that. It's like you hoped the old fighting away, there were no more arguments, only understanding, and anything less than desirable you shrugged off. It didn't matter. I love your loyalty.

You love your dad beyond anything else. He is everything you want to be. You are two peas in a pod.

Today we sat down and I pulled you into my lap and asked how it felt to be eight. You were pleased. We hung out there for a while, my arms slung over your shoulders like a jacket, and when I went to move, you scooted so you were still with me, shifted my arms back over your shoulders.

You haven't done that in a long time. I think I like eight already.

Happy Birthday, firstborn son.

I love you.