Dear Merritt,

You are four years and one week old. We can not begin to comprehend this. How have you completed four years of life and entered your fifth? Does. Not. Compute.

We were recently playing in your room and you said, "I know you why you picked me out at the baby store." We often talk about how you grew in my body, so this notion of the baby store was new and somewhat surprising. I asked where you'd learned about such a place and you used your typical "I don't know, I just realized it" answer. So I played along and asked, "Okay? Why did I pick you?" And you leaned in close and grinned a giant grin and said, "Was I cute?"

Oh, man. Were you ever. And you still are.

You were when you smiled in your sleep for the first time. And you are when you laugh your head off at a homemade knock-knock joke. You were when all your newborn--and even premie--clothes swallowed you whole. And you are when you've outgrown your pajamas and your tummy and wrists and ankles peek out around all your hems, but that doesn't stop you from wearing your old favorites. You were when your eyes could barely pull focus and sometimes crossed. And you are when you watch the Dodgers and Red Sox so fiercely and intently (and cheer for them to get a "home score," your current terminology for "home run").

I suspect you will probably always be cute.

You do this thing where you nuzzle into our necks and whisper the most wonderful things.

"Thank you for this delicious meal."

"I'm so glad to be here with the mommas."

"I love you so badly. And goodly."

It wouldn't be fair to call these "sweet nothings" because they feel like sweet everythings.

Last week at the library, you insisted on returning all sixteen books by yourself, one at a time. Instead of hurrying you along or being frustrated, I just stood back and let you do your thing. And I'm so glad I did.

You essentially conducted a "celebration of life" for each book you returned, taking a moment to say a few kind words aloud (but to yourself) about each publication before sending it down the shoot. "Oh, Dirty Gert. You were a good mess." "Bye, Leprechauns! I love your rainbows." "Thanks for the the treasure hunt idea, Ruby & Max!"

This is a perfect glimpse at how you traipse through life. "Oh, hey there, thing I can experience. I'm going to go ahead and experience you to the fullest. And then I'm going to be grateful for you." Merritt, you astonish and inspire us with your exuberance, your gratitude, and your ability to wring the very best out of any moment and sop it up and roll around in it and revel.

You are a billion sunbeams and a force to be reckoned with (the best kind of force). You are a "tiny teacher" (your declaration) and a brilliant pupil of the world. A phenomenal friend. A powerhouse of creativity and zest and fervor.  A harbinger of wonder. You are a life force like no other. And it is staggering to think about how lucky we are to know you and love you.

There is no greater honor.

Momma & Mommy

P.S. We're not the only ones who love you:

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