Dear Leafy,


Yesterday, as I was sitting outside eating a mango after lunch, you walked over to me.

“Mama,” you said. “This might sound weird, but I think I have sensors on my tongue. I can tell whether or not a bite of food that I’m taking is going to make me full, right as I put it in my mouth.”

And you waited for my response. So of course I said, “That’s cool, Leafy.”

It is cool. You’re cool. I mean, seriously, mind-stoppingly incredible. 


This is not a birthday letter because you turned seven on January 20th, exactly a week before Isaac was born and now you’re WAY older than seven. Obviously. At the time I wasn’t at all sure whether I would be in labor on your birthday or not. But we had a party and there were all these other kids there and when you opened your present (a Clone Trooper mask) you screamed with joy. For once, we didn’t shush you.

What will you do with all your lungpower, son? Your ability to project across the country of Thailand merely with the sound of your voice?  And what will you do with your brilliant mind? Your mind is in love with play. You play with words, with ideas, with pictures. In your mind, definitions are made to be bent and flipped inside out, every problem has some way to be worked around, in large, creative, sweeping circles.


As I write this letter to you, you are walking in large circles around the room, not seeing anything in front of you, deep in your mind, in the action that happens in your imagination. You can do this for hours, and I think you’ve done it since you could walk. Sometimes we have to tell you to please watch your feet, because you’ve been drawn away so far that you don’t notice if you are stepping on things or even people.

He's killing me.

And then sometimes you get drawn swiftly back to the here and now, as when you hear Isaac crying and you run from wherever you are to find him. You love him so intensely, his cry seems to affect you just as physically as it does me. I knew you would love him, you've always loved babies and you sit for hours with small friends of our, talking baby talk and listening to the baby words they tell you in turn. But I wasn't prepared for how much you would love him, how you would sob in the hospital when you realized that you had to go back to the house and Isaac would be staying with me in the hospital. How you always come and find us in our room, first thing, and lay your head beside his as he nurses.

We cut the rest of Leafy's hair off yesterday and he turned into a mini Chinua.

We cut the rest of your hair off the other night. This time there was no crying, you were excited and happy to see how different you look. I could barely contain myself, you emerged looking just like your daddy when he was a little kid, and it was so endearing, so, so endearing. I loved the way you looked with dreadlocks, and with your dreadlock mohawk, and now that you have short hair I can see every gesture you make in a different way, how you tilt your head to the side when you're thinking, or imagining, as you so often are.

I mean, I can't, he's too, ahhh.

You bring me flowers and you dream up things to give me, and long to make things for people you know. You often tell me you're going to build me a house one day.  I've stopped expecting this affection to go away because I know that this is who you are, with a deep core of tenderness and a love of giving to others.

So far this year with you, your year of being seven, is challenging, as you are stubborn or whiny sometimes in a way I'm not used to with you. And this year is above all,  beautiful. Like you.