Mommy: Hey! Why are you so dirty?
Sydney: We were playing ice cream.
M: You were eating ice cream? At school? Cool.
S: NO. We were PLAYING ice cream.
S: Yes. The sand was vanilla, the mud was chocolate.
Monday, August 24, 2009
My dear son,
You made a year nearly 3 weeks ago, and I am just sitting down to write this letter. I can blame it on the fact that your birthday fell during our big vacation to an area devoid of every type of modern technological coverage, or the insane schedule we've all negotiated since coming home, but the reality is probably closer to this: as the second child of two people with questionable organizational skills, you will likely be subject to this sort of thing over and over throughout the course of your childhood. Things will be late, or rushed, or half-done, or not done at all. I am truly and deeply sorry about this, I wish I could promise to make it otherwise, but here is the good news:
We are absolutely, positively, almost frighteningly WILD about you.
I mean, who wouldn't be? From the instant you were born, every moment has felt incredibly precious. The first night we had you, I sat up in bed at Touro and held you close, staring at you while you slept and nursed and stared back. I saw in those early minutes and hours what has proven true over this first year of your life: how alert you are, how engaged, how wise and persistent and curious. We brought you home and you watched with quiet attention as your big sister danced and squealed around your seat and patted your cheeks and hands and feet. You spent the first 3 months of your life nestled in the crook of my arm, where you slept each night; I couldn't bear to hear you cry when I laid you in the crib. At 4 months you seemed ready to spend the night in the Pack-n-Play in our bedroom, and I was more than a little sad to let you go, even though you were only moving to the other side of the room. I can't even imagine how I'm going to feel by the time you read this, when you are old enough to truly leave--but no, I won't go there now.
At 4 1/2 months you managed to roll yourself off the edge of our bed--although you were not yet rolling over--and ended up having a CAT scan and a concussion. It was then that we were reminded again of your persistence, your curiousity, your ability to get to whatever and wherever you want, regardless of your supposed abilities. This will undoubtedly serve you well in life, and means that we, as your parents, will have to exercise extraordinary vigilance in the service of keeping you safe.
At 1 year, you are a sweet, bright boy with a beautiful laugh and a generous spirit. You are good at playing alone but love to engage with other kids. You are pickier with food than your sister was at this age. You are good at getting your needs met: you shake your head and push hands away when you don't want to do something, you clap and yell and nod when something favorable grabs your attention. And you are so much like your Daddy--that persistence, that quiet intelligence, that penchance for problem-solving that often leaves me speechless and smiling as I watch you from across the room, unraveling a piece of ribbon from your sister's tiara or poking a piece of plastic into the air-conditioning vent, over and over and over, in quest to discover just how far it will go and what the heck might actually be down there.* And these similarities are wonderful, not just because I love your Dad more than anything and love to see his qualities in you, but because it is living proof of the connection, the handing down, the circular nature of things. And that makes me happy. You, my son, make me wildly, completely, and sometimes inexplicably, happy.
I hope we can do the same by you. I hear a lot about parental failings and ineptitudes during the course of an average work day, and it leaves me with a sober sense of all the things that are working against us. But for now, we will try, to do our best, to love you for everything you are, to hold you close enough for comfort but not too close, to show you all that is good in the world but teach you also about the injustices, the sorrows--to make you into a whole person, with hopes and fears and compassion and strength. I love watching you grow up. I just wish I could slow it down a little.
Happy birthday, my boy--three weeks late, but no less sincere. I love you.
* I recently learned that your Dad used to do the exact same thing when he was your age. Amazing.