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To my middle boy, before you turn 4

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Dearest Zaza,

I keep saying I want you to stay three forever, and you keep asking if I’m going to let you turn four. Truth is, I have no choice.

Tomorrow is your birthday. I rejoice in celebrating yet another year, but I admit- your mama gets crazy emotional when it comes to milestones …and this one is hitting me hard. That’s because I actually really like the three-year-old you.

I recently Googled the “urban” definition of your name, Zachary. And what popped up did not come as a surprise. It read: If he cares about you, he treats you like royalty. He's charismatic and the nicest person you will ever meet. He's different and special. He won’t ever hurt you. He has a bit of a temper but it’s best for the people around him. A protective, harmless, respectful, caring, weird wonderful person. You'll fall in love with him in the first three weeks of knowing him.

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Well son, I fell in love with you the moment I saw your full head of gorilla hair.

Zaza, you walk into preschool, stand at your door with your arms wide open, and the class flocks your way screaming, “Zaza, Zaza, Zaza.” Your grand entrance is followed by your friends showering you with hugs. That, my boy, is because you have a something special that draws people to your arms. How I wish I had that magnetism.

You’re never short of kisses, kissing your teachers, your friends, your brothers, your dad, me… your love is contagious and delicious, and you give it so generously.

You have the most genuine way with words. I’ll never forget walking along the beach path in San Diego… Nicholas, your big brother, was zooming past you on his scooter and you screamed: “Wait for me… I’m part of the family, too!”

I suppose it’s the middle child syndrome, but you wear it so well.

And speaking of being the middle man, you hold the title with pride. You either introduce yourself as: “Zaza the Middle Boy,” “Zaza the Big Boy,” or “Zaza the Great,” which is my personal fave.

You are obsessed with trains. Like seriously obsessed. You know every single Thomas engine and savor in collecting every single action figure. My favorite thing to do with you is build train cities- you sure own being a choo-choo engineer. I so admire that you have a sincere interest in something. I know you’ll grow up to be the best conductor in the world.

You are extremely kind. You sat on the sidelines at Nicholas’ soccer games and greeted him with congratulatory hugs even when he didn’t score a goal. You “let” baby Alex play with your trains and call him the best baby in the world. You constantly take my head in your hands, look me deep in the eyes and say: “Are you happy, mommy?” The answer is yes, Zaza… when I’m around you, I’m full of joy.

You’re also really funny. You love to make your brothers laugh, entertaining them with being silly. Plus, you’re goofy looking (in a good way).

Every night, we have special snuggles and you ask me to sing 900 songs. Most of the time, however, we sing our usual four: I’ve been Working on the Railroad (duh), Farmer in the Dell (we make up our own words), You Are My Sunshine (you always remind me of the second verse- “the other night dear…”), and Baby Mine. You are the true epitome of being my baby mine, with eyes that sparkle and shine.

You’re living up to your name, Zachary, even though you’re known to your little world as “Zaza.” You are a light in my life; more so the lives of people who know you.

I want you to stay three forever, but I also wanted you to stay my cuddly newborn, my monkey baby, that hand-holding one-year old, and the sweetest two-year-old, …so I suppose you’ll make four just as addicting.

Happy birthday, my old soul. I’m proud to be your mother.

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