Dear Kids: Thank You

This year I took a new approach to honoring my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I enlisted seven parents to be guest columnists, inviting each to say, Hey, kids, here’s why I’m grateful for you.

Luckily enough, Lisa Belkin, senior columnist on life/work/family for the Huffington Post, and Janice D’Arcy, “On Parenting” columnist of The Washington Post, liked the concept – parents writing letters to say, Dear kids, thank you – enough to feature it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/thank-you-letters_n_1110137.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-parenting/post/spending-thanksgiving-thanking-our-kids/2011/11/21/gIQAcn8jlN_blog.html

Here, then, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion – and humbly offered as what you might call post-Thanksgiving leftovers – is why I’m grateful for my own kids.

Dear Michael and Caroline,

Thank you, Michael, my son. You made me a father for the first time. Thank you for looking so beautiful as a baby, and then as a boy, and now as a man.

Thank you, too, for respecting and trusting and loving your mother, and for recognizing inescapably how much she means to you, and to us all.

And for playing the role of big brother with your little sister, the part of a lifetime, and for admiring her tenacity, and for being ready to do anything to protect her, no matter how minor the threat.

And for dealing so well with being just like me, bearing the blessing and the curse alike, because yes, it’s both, but which more than the other might be hard to say.

And for never speaking ill of any of your friends, even though you probably could have, and of your girlfriends, too.

Thank you, my boy, for so ably impersonating Christopher Walken and that weird cricket-like sound from the monster in the movie “Predator.”

And for your quicksilver wisecracks, especially that one time, when I asked you if you considered yourself short, and you said,“No, just undertall.”

And for how your face looked in the moonlight in Southhampton, when I carried you outside the cottage we rented, how your eyes beamed as you looked up at all the stars glittering in the sky, your mouth opening in awe at the canopy of the constellations above.

Thanks especially for so fondly remembering Grandma Nettie, who still counts so much now and forever, a source of light and warmth for all of us as strong as the sun, and for giving her so much joy.

Thank you, too, Caroline, my daughter. Michael showed me how deeply I could love someone new, and you’ve shown me I could love someone else new just as deeply. In a single stroke, you doubled everything.

Thanks, too, for crying so much as a baby, your cries insistently reminding us, as if we could ever forget, “I’m here, I’m here!”

And for being so hard on the outside, once as a two-year-old taking umbrage at me for daring to challenge you and stubbornly jutting out your jaw and saying, “You think you’re tough?”

But also for being so soft on the inside, talking to your dolls in your room, crying at all the classic Disney movies, growing your hair long so you could cut it and give it away to kids going through chemo.

Thank you, my girl, for climbing that boulder in Martha’s Vineyard at the age of eight to sing in front of our friends. You look so at home on stage and sing and dance with such conviction, always going for the right note, the right step, usually hitting it, too, but if you miss it, always trying again until you get it right. I’m grateful for how intent you get before auditions and shows, how zoned in.

Thank you for cranking out so many real push-ups and showing me yoga and Pilates and once giving me a facial, and for how you looked that day I held you in the pool at the beach club, your face gleaming with droplets of water so gloriously in the sun.

And for eating so nutritiously and for always carrying yourself like a lady, and for never complaining about having the smallest bedroom. And for being so beautiful with your ballerina neck and elegant jawline and perfect, pampered skin and those cherry-black eyes that can win me over or cut me to the quick, depending on your mood that day.

And for being so very alive, your nerves living so close to your skin.

Thank you especially for appreciating everything Mom and I have tried to give you, and for telling us so. And equally so for holding Grandma Nettie dear in your heart, always remembering her all-powerful love for you.

You both came into the world as if from nothing and nowhere. But we know you came from our love for each other and our faith in the future. You each gave me someone new to love, someone I could call my own, blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, and also someone else who could love me back.

You are both rewards surpassing anything I might ever have imagined or, for that matter, ever felt I truly deserved.

There. I’ve said it. It’s now a matter of public record. I wish I could catalogue everything I’m grateful about when it comes to both of you, but for now this will, somehow, have to do.

Besides, nothing I could say will ever do justice to the gratitude I feel this and every Thanksgiving. One day I believe I love you both with all my heart, only to find the next day I love you even more. It never ends, and it never will. You are my butterflies, my rainbows, my miracles.

P.S. — Anyone else out there feel the same? If so, let me know.

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