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Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I am writing you a letter. I know you might find that surprising, as I can't write my letters yet, but I'm only five and I will. But it doesn't mean I can't write letters in my mind. I write both kinds - why do they call letters that are like ABC and letters that are messages the same thing? I know how to do lots of things in my head, and one day I really will!

Sometimes when I talk, the words don't come out right and so I don't say them. I have to organize them in my mind. I do that a lot when I'm playing with my train set by myself. Usually, when I figure them out, I am quite happy, and then I don't think I have to say them at all, and I usually forget, even when it is important. But they go away. And sometimes, Mom, I never told you this, I like to keep secrets, too. There are some things that make me happy that I like to keep to myself, as my own special thoughts, and they help me when I'm not feeling so happy.

Mom, I want to tell you that I love it when you read to me. We always do it before I go to bed, and I think about what we read a lot as I fall asleep. It's the best! And, Mom? You know that what comes out of your mouth is like magic, because the rest of the day, you almost never tell me any stories, and you don't say anything that is too funny very often. Maybe you are just busy. But when you read books, I love being next to you, and I finally found out last year that you didn't just make up the stories to go with the pictures, like I used to do in my head. Somehow there are stories and stuff in the letters! You never really told me that - I figured it out all by myself. I tried to ask you who put them in there, but I got frustrated in figuring out even how to ask. At first, I was a little disappointed when I found out you didn't make up a new story each time you read to me. I only discovered that when we pulled out the same book twice, and the story came out exactly the same. It's kind of nice to be able to learn stories by heart, though that's really little kids' stuff.

Your stories, and the books too, are filled with talking elephants and dancing trees, and funny cars and silly dinosaurs and hippopotamuses, and princes and princesses (dad used to call me 'the prince', but he doesn't anymore), and poems - I especially like poems! - and all sorts of amazing people and places and buildings that we never see in our town. I sometimes wonder whether they exist where grandma lives, or maybe on the other side of the world? I don't understand why you think it is important that we read the same books again and again. I always like new ones. Oh, and Mom? I like books with facts in them. Lots of facts. When I know facts, it makes me feel really good, and (this might surprise you), I never forget any.

But lately, and this is what I wanted to tell you, it is becoming less fun. First of all, you sometimes want to do it in the daytime, when I have other stuff I need to do. And you make it seem like we have to, like when you make me go brush my teeth, though that's only at night. And then, sometimes, right in the middle of the story, you have started putting your finger under words. And so I push it away, but you don't seem to like that. And now you sometimes point at a place on the page and ask "what's this word?" I HATE THAT! How am I supposed to concentrate and enjoy the story and remember what happened before if you keep interrupting? It's very terrible, and when you do that, I don't want to read anymore. And then I can see you get a little upset, and I'm trying to figure out if I did anything wrong. I mean I know my letters, and lots of other stuff.

Sometimes you stop your reading on a particular word, put your finger under it, and make funny shapes and sounds with your mouth. I understand that these sounds are supposed to add up to words or something, but they seem to have nothing to do with the stories at all, so I really wish you would stop.

You know, you sort of do the same thing with the piano. What a miracle the piano is! Dad once picked me up so I could see what happens inside when you play. There are all those metal strings inside a funny-shaped box, with hammer things, and pedals. Dad says the white keys come from elephant tusks (but I don't believe him), and the black keys come from wood from India, where there are also elephants. (You told that to me from a book, about the elephants, I mean.) And out of the piano, when you play, comes magical sounds! I love to watch and listen, and sometimes I take my train set right under it when you are playing. Did you know that it sounds completely different from under there? Scruffy (Editor's note: the family dog) likes it there, too.

But then you make me come up to the piano, and play. Only it really isn't playing. You always tell me where to put my fingers, which are too small anyway, and hit one note at a time, which is boring, and then you tell me to count, only I don't know what it is I am counting because there really is nothing there. It ruins it totally, and then for some reason you get sort of, I don't know, angry?

I know a secret. This one I can share, and it is completely true. I am going to play the piano better than you do. Really! I know this because I have better music pictures in my head, and I am going to play them. And, you know what? I'm also going to read better than you. I'm going to read books without any pictures in them, and with lots of FACTS. Then - you wait - I'm going to be the smartest person in the whole world! And then everyone will know I have the best mom ever.

Well, that's all I have to say right now. Someday I will be able to write my letters down, and I can send them in the mail, and then you can get them and send me letters back. That will be so much fun. But until then, we will just have to wait. Ooo, and I discovered that growing up means there is a lot of waiting. Sometimes this is annoying, and makes me mad, like when you told me I'm too little to cook things on the stove. But other times it's just fun, because I never know exactly what is going to happen next.

I don't know how you are supposed to end a letter. So I guess I'll just say, "Good bye."

Your friend,

Michael