Dear Grady,

Today you turned six. 

The last year has wiped out any remaining traces of your babyhood. Your chubby cheeks and sweet baby smell have been replaced by gangly limbs and a lisp-inducing gap where your front teeth used to be. Your wrist and thigh rolls have been replaced by eye rolls. You are a kid, not my baby. 

You are the coolest kid I know. You are creative and imaginative and I love seeing how your brain works. You want to be a musician (like daddy, or the Foo Fighters, but better than the Foo Fighters, in fact, last week you told us when you grow up your band will be called the Foo Fighters Red Dragon). You want to be a history teacher so you can talk about knights all day and help kids. You are happiest when you're sitting in front of your sketchbook, filling page after page with Ninja Turtles and knights in castles. 

You talk all the time. Like, all the time. You ask questions and you try to figure stuff out and you don't let me get away with explaining things away with "that's just the way it is!" ("But there has to be a reason," you insist.) You are consumed with fairness and I'm doing my best to protect your sweet conviction (while not beating my head against the wall when you ask for the fiftieth time why you have to go to bed hours before me).

You are the best big brother to Poppy. You are loving and kind, and the best part of my day is when she sees you after waking up. She goes from grumbly-half-asleep to pure sunshine when she sees her Guh-guh. You're the only one who can calm her down when she's feeling squirrelly. You sing "Poppy Doodle" and she goes from unmanageable honey badger to a slightly more manageable honey badger. You've taught her to laugh at burps and farts. You share your toys and your food and your Mama and Daddy. Witnessing the ferocity and depth with which you love your little sister is my greatest joy. 

Grady, life is not always shiny and bright. As you grow into your own person, we've had challenges. We are both stubborn and sassy and sometimes it feels like we are going in circles. I'm doing my best to stay patient and embrace the person you're becoming. Some days this is easier than others. 

Six years ago you were born and made me a mama. Every day since, I have felt like the luckiest person alive. Thank you. I love you. Happy sixth birthday, Grady Bug.