A Letter To My Son On His Fifth Birthday

Birthday cake with a 5-shaped candle

My, how you’ve grown in the last year. You’ve had many experiences this year that put you squarely into the big-boys club. Moving to a different country and continent, leaving all your friends behind, and making your way in this new and strange world must have been so hard. I know it was hard for us grown-ups. But you didn’t flinch, and you took on the new experiences with your head held high – looking for Mary Poppins.

You are always so curious about how things work. Reading comes easily to you now. We were also lucky enough to find a teacher who not only allows you to run ahead with your skills, she challenges you and encourages you to go even further: to learn new things, and figure out new tricks, like writing the numbers 1-100 using the pattern the numbers make.

You made new friends at your new class so quickly, it’s like you knew them for years. Your friends greet you enthusiastically on the playground, and love coming over and having you over. And you wouldn’t even consider not inviting everyone in your new class to your birthday party, so we had to find a venue to accommodate all of them.

We also discovered this summer that you don’t like to lose. You hate it so much, in fact, that sometimes you have uncharacteristic tantrums when you do. It breaks my heart every time I tell you, “You know what? We can’t win all the time”. It’s true, and you have to learn that, but I wish you didn’t have to learn it quite so early, and in such a harsh way. But you have to learn it, so we try to make it about learning to enjoy the game for the sake of the game. And you do like to play these games – from football (American Translation: soccer) to chess and checkers, which you started playing this summer with gusto.

I feel like only yesterday you were a baby, looking around from your baby carrier as we walked along the streets. You always liked busy streets, and fell asleep when we were walking down the street with the most traffic. Now you ride around on your scooter in one of the busiest cities in the world, like it’s nothing to write home about. You have preferred restaurants, and you love going to the library because that means we have new books to read. When did you become such a big boy?

I wish for you to always be learning new things. It’s what you love most, and it is what you should do at this age. I wish for you to learn about the physical world, but also about the social world. I wish for you to learn about numbers, but also about how important is each friend. I wish for you to learn about letters and sounds, but also about how to make your voice heard and when not to say everything that pops into your mind. I wish for you to learn the most from your failures, even though they hurt.

With all my love,


@2015 - Gal Podjarny