It is the night of your fourth birthday and you are asleep in the room next to me at a hotel in Jakarta. We just moved here last week, and we are trying to get settled. I was thinking about what a strange life we have created for you. Your father is an Iranian raised in California. Your mother is from Wisconsin and you were born in Malaysia, spent a few years in Qatar and are now ready to start your new life in Indonesia. You have been to Thailand more times before you turned four than most people will go in a lifetime. You have been on safari in Kenya. You have crawled through Roman ruins in Tunisia, have ridden the subway in NYC, and walked the streets of Stockholm.
You talk about going to Jamaica because your former teacher is from there, and then to Holland to see friends of yours from your old school. You know Bali is next to Jakarta and you look forward to going there. The other day you were singing a song I had never heard:
when I get older, I will be stronger
They'll call me freedom just like a wavin' flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back, oh
You knew all the words. Turns out it was the official theme of the World Cup. You are aware.
In short, you are the most remarkable person I have ever met. I marvel at your sense of style and confidence, even when I am frustrated by your obstinacy. You are already a master negotiator and your grasp of logic is frightening. It is strange that I write these letters to you now, because I can already see you at every age. Even before you were born I could see you as you are now, and no matter how much you change I feel like I will always know you so well. You are the best and worst pieces of your mother and I, as well as your own unique sticking agent.
We have only been in Indonesia for a week, but I can already see the affect it is having on you. You walk about like you own the place. “Don’t be so shy!” you tell me. I hope your time here, exploring the many wonders it has to offer, will help you learn some humility as well as understanding. I am sure we will see many things that will leave lasting impressions on who you will become. I will be here to guide you through what you see. Actually we will be here together as a family.
If you were wondering what you were like at four here are some off the cuff ideas:
- You are currently obsessed with pink and purple and shiny pretty things.
- You love to draw.
- You love books.
- You can do many things by yourself.
- You are very independent.
- You are a monster when you are tired or hungry, but most of the time you are very polite and mature.
- You love pesto pasta and princesses and pizza.
- You love to ride your bike and roller coasters.
- You love Mickey Mouse. Strawberry Shortcake and Handy Manny.
- You always want sprinkles on your ice cream.
- And often times order your food at restaurants.
- All in all you make us very proud. I know all parents must say this, but you are something special to everyone you meet.
I love you and happy fourth birthday. I hope that our friends and family will share some thoughts in the comment section below.