Thursday, August 22, 2013

Love, more

My sons - who were born ten weeks early and spent eight weeks in the NICU - are turning 13 years old today.  Feel free to sob with me.

Dear not-so-little-man,

During a week of no camps or activities I dragged took you and your siblings to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library.  The building alone is stunning.  It is designed by I. M. Pei and juts out onto Boston Harbor.  Inside this beautiful space is history of an era that we are not familiar with but impacts our daily lives.  You were enthralled with the faux White House hallway, the real letters and news footage from the time.  That and television channels were only changed with knobs that you had to get up from the couch to change.

As we finished the special exhibit about the Cuban Missile Crisis you begged me to buy you Profiles in Courage, the book the then Senator Kennedy wrote while he recovered from back surgery caused by injuries from World War II.  Surprisingly you have been reading it, telling me all about Robert Kennedy's forward to the book and interesting facts about the Kennedys.

A few days after our visit to the museum a good family friend who has his own wonderful career in politics offered us two barely used twin-sized mattresses and box springs.  After I happily accepted he threw in two headboards which had been used by a certain newly elected Congressman and his twin brother when they were boys.

So now you've been reading Profiles in Courage propped up against the same headboard of Robert Kennedy's grandson.  And President Kennedy's great-nephew.  Which only feeds into your belief that you are going to make a difference in the world, in a really big way.

And I have no doubt you will.

I love you,


Dear not-so-little-man,

We, as a family, had to give up one of our dogs to animal rescue in June.  You, your brother and your younger sister seemed to handle this development well.  You all appeared to understand that Zeke was becoming increasingly violent and our family could not provide him a safe home.  We had a scheduled time to drop him off while you were at school.

The morning we were to drop off Zeke your brother woke up and was inconsolable.  He sobbed and sobbed, unable to even get to school never mind manage the day.  You were fine and trooped off to school with barely a lowered shoulder.  I promised your brother I would take him out of school to say goodbye to Zeke and be part of leaving him at the shelter.

When I got to school your brother told me you wanted to go as well which mildly ticked me off since I figured you were only asking so you could miss a class or two.  Eventually we got to the shelter, finished the paperwork and said goodbye to Zeke.  Everyone's eyes stayed dry.

Until we got out the door when your brother lost it.  You told him to sit in the front seat of the car and you sat behind him.  Once we climbed in you reached forward, grabbed his shoulders and told him that Zeke was safe now. You reminded him that you both could now have friends at our home (since Zeke was particularly hostile towards/would bite 12-year-old boys).  You rubbed his shoulders and told him it eventually wouldn't hurt so much.  Your brother calmed down - so much so he walked back into school with a smile.

You were not at the shelter to skip a class.  You weren't there to say goodbye to the family dog we had for four years.

You were there to help your twin brother grieve.

I was dry eyed as we left the shelter.  I was practically clicking my heals - a la Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" - as we walked out the door since Zeke had been a struggle for a while.

But as you comforted your brother I slipped my sunglasses on.  Because that was when I started to cry.

I love you.  More than you will ever really understand.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Happiness

Dear Daughter,

You love to perform.  Last month you had your own song for our local production of Schoolhouse Rock Live which you memorized in one week.  At Christmas time you were in The Urban Nutcracker and never has anyone been so proud of dancing on a blue and yellow-polkadotted bouncing ball.

But the work it takes to get there, to get to the performing, is something you don't love.

You manage the expectation of learning your part with both unrealistic fantasy ("Maybe I'll be the lead!!") and stoic team player attitude.  You accept your role and find something to get excited about ("I am the first person on stage for the second act!!").

Then the dreaded learning of the parts begins.  You squirm in your seat as the cast learns songs ("WHEN do we get ON STAGE?!?") and grumble as the dance sequence is gone over again.  And again.  And again.

But when tech week begins, when costumes are worn, when bright lights are tested, you stand taller, throw your shoulders back and look out into the seats with eager anticipation.  When the shows begin you are both an eager kid goofing with friends backstage and focused performer quietly centering yourself (sometimes doing both within a minute).

This confidence carries through to school, standing up for yourself with your two older brothers, and your playing.

Because when I walk into the kitchen in the middle of you doing an imaginary cooking show you don't recoil from embarrassment that I am seeing this.  You smile, nonchalantly face the "camera" and say "and here is my mom.  Say 'hi', Mom!"

And I say "Hi" to the imaginary camera just as you direct me.

Happy Birthday.
I love you,

Photo by the always wonderful friend
Steven Davey.