Four years ago, in a land far, far, away (OK, not so far, but it sounds better, right?) the littlest nephew made his family debut. He was killer cute like his mother and had his father's long curly eyelashes. Based on years of experience, I knew the eyelashes in particular were a real danger: powerful enough to melt your heart and turn your steely resolve to Hershey's syrup, even when your little brother was being a total pain in the ass and not eating his breakfast.
He was a long-waited for baby, and when he finally decided to show up, he fit into his family as seamlessly as if he had always been there. "He's so big!" we'd exclaim. "He's such a happy baby!" we'd cry. "He has a wet nose, so he MUST be healthy!" we'd laugh excitedly. "What? Nobody told me I had a brother!" Woof!!
He grew and grew and grew and grew and grew and before we knew it, he was talking a million miles a minute, eating applesauce and macaroni and cheese like he owned stock, and became a perfectly wonderful little boy, as if he was special-ordered from the perfectly wonderful little boy company.
But as perfect as you are, and as happy and cute and wonderful and lethal with those killer eyelashes, I love you just as much for your other side. You know what I'm talking about: the impish grin, the hysterical personality, the being just a little too smart for your own good, the working SO hard to pull one over on a family whose specialty is to pull one over on someone else. I love the fact that you are a total boy and could whip my butt in Double Jeopardy if the category was CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT IDENTIFICATION. I love it that you love all the "cheepies" on the farm and can't wait to hold them again. I love it that you love to read books and sing great songs like Manamana and Put the Lime in the Coconut. I love it that you love the sounds of words, and for awhile everything we ate was delicious. I love it that you say a Japanese blessing at the end of a meal, and when I can't say it too (because you say it too fast) I blurt out GHOSTBUSTERS and you laugh. I love it that you still can't tell a knock-knock joke to save your life, but we both crack up every time we try. I love it that you have taken your parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents on a wonderful ride for the last four years, and although I never know what to expect when I see you next, I'm certain it will be fun.
So, keep it up. Keep living and loving and laughing and filling the world with your specialness. And if we're both really lucky, your dad will be silly enough to ask "Hey, what do you have there?....."
...and you'll be just enough of a smart-ass to show him.
Happy Birthday Number Four!