Since the day you were born I have no clue whether or not what I’m doing is right. You didn’t come with an instruction manual although I suspect there must be some batteries inside with your endless energy. And your smile and laughter that is as powerful as your whines.
The day you were born was the happiest and scariest moment of my life. And I think you came out laughing instead of crying.
For a very long time in my life I cared for nothing else but myself. It wasn’t that I was irresponsible. It’s that I had no responsibilities. Actually, I could spot responsibilities a mile away and could easily stand aside to escape it.
And because I had been single for the most part of my life, some people thought I had a lot of issues. Believe me, son, I enjoyed each and every one of those issues. But that’s another story when you’re older.
So I had pretty much a good run of fun.
Until your mother came.
There went the ballgame.
But we welcomed you with great delight and told ourselves that you would know nothing else from us but the power of love. That you would live in a household filled with love — despite our arguments to prove which one of us is smarter.
I guess you know by now why your mom always wins.
There’s a cliche that says Time Flies So Fast. It’s true during my time and it will be true during yours. I remember when you were just a year old and kept chuckling at every little thing you saw. You always woke up smiling and ready to seize the day, to discover more, to learn more.
And from infant clothes you jumped right up to toddler clothes. You skipped baby clothes because you were growing so fast. You were a joy in both your mom’s and dad’s families. You were the youngest grandchild on my side, at least, and everyone couldn’t get enough of you.
The only worry that both your mom and I had was that you might be lonely growing up alone because we both came from a big family. There’s four children on your mom’s side and there are five devil boys on my side. I’m actually relieved that you got to see the kindness and tenderness from your mom’s side of the family before you got exposed to the wild and crazy brothers on my side.
Still, we did not know how best to make you happy, or if you were happy playing alone with your Thomas & Friends from Hell toys. One day you’ll forget that Thomas was your favorite toy. You’ll forget the lyrics to the theme song that you’ve been singing even before you could speak. You’ll forget how you slept with them, right next to you, and knew each and every one of their names. You’ll forget how you sat and stood and complained while waiting at the store to open so you could buy another train. And you’ll forget how hard you cried when you lost them in a few hours. You’ll forget all these things as you grow older and that’s OK.
But one thing I can tell you, my son, those were damn expensive toys. And in a country where there are just about all the fake toys you can find, there isn’t a single fake Thomas train available.
So, actually, I’m glad you’ve outgrown Thomas after 4 years of stepping on them in the living room.
And aside from toys, we’re glad that you’ve taken so much acceptance of your brother with Down Syndrome. We couldn’t be more proud how you take care of him, protect him, love him, tease him, and care for him … even when, as all boys do, get into your crazy fights.
And one of the experiences you should look back and treasure was how you participated in a modeling show. Your mom and I were very proud of you and couldn’t believe how much you’ve grown then at the age of 3. We’ve seen you overcome your shyness, how you socialized with other boys and girls and I think it was right then that we knew, deep in our heart, you’ll be fine in life.
I just hate that you’ve grown up so much and so quickly. As cliches go, you were just entering preschool and — in a blink of an eye — you’re now entering the big school!
Soon you’ll have new friends, more adventures, more games, more fun, and more knowledge, especially since you devour everything you see, read them, toss them, and out to discover new things.
Really, it feels just like yesterday when you were ready to be a Jedi Knight. Remember all those pretend fights that you were doing trying to save the world?
And how you always wanted me to play Darth Vader!
Well, as you grow older, we will have arguments and fights and the many NOs that you will hear from me in the same way my parents kept saying NO to just about every whim I wanted. Believe me, when you get older, when you are old enough to read this, you will thank us as much as we thank our parents for having the decency to say NO.
In the end, no matter how much you hate … I will always say just like Darth Vader said: “I AM YOUR FATHER.”
Anyway, looking at your old pictures never cease to amaze me how much you’ve grown. I think every parent always wondered about that. I used to hear it when I was your age and now look back at the cycle how you’re hearing it as well.
Oh the joy that you have given us Neo. You and your brother are our most cherished treasures in life. And the times we’ve spent together is proof that there’s enough love to go around for everyone, if only one would look. I shall never trade any milestone moment with you for anything as we know that we are on but borrowed time to spend it with you … before you move on to do your own thing in life.
Often we wonder what more kindness we could teach to you when, in truth, you’re the one that has been teaching us what it is to be kind, what it is to be happy, what it is to be curious, what it is to live life to the fullest.
So go out into the world and spread the germ of your happiness: be whoever you want to be. Together with your brother, your mother and I know that you will continue to fare well in life. Armed with happiness, no matter the challenges, you will always win.
And never ever lose sight of your curiosity, your inner child, your happy place. Always go back to it whenever you’re sad or if ever you encounter challenges. Remember that no matter how far you go, no matter where you start your own life, no matter who you’re with … know that you have been loved.
One day, not long from now, you will grow much older than your 6th birthday. You will go farther and further away from us and that’s OK. It’s the same way that your mom and I have done so. Claim life the way you have since the day you were born. We wish you all the best in the same way that we wish you for all the joy in life on your birthday.
You will one day date and meet so many interesting people but, remember, in case you ever forget to call us, I’d be happy to send them this.
I love you, my son. Thank you for coming into our lives.
N Mark Castro
3rd of August 2014