Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Boy#2!

A year ago yesterday I wrote the only post on this site that has ever completely embarrassed the Boys. It concerned childbirth and bodily fluids, and my women friends found it HILARIOUS, even while the men in my family were mortified.

I do not regret the post (hey, I warned the Boys that they should avert their eyes) but it occurred to me that as I was caught up in telling my own story I neglected to give Boy#2 his proper birthday greetings. So a year later, here they are:

Happy birthday, Two!

I look at your gap-toothed three-year-old grin and it occurs to me that those could be taken for uncomplicated days. A cake with chocolate frosting and dinosaur sprinkles and all was well with the world. You were not, however, an uncomplicated child.
  1. You were a big kid who was oddly fragile. This picture was snapped on the one-year anniversary of your first trip to the hospital for asthma. In spite of your robust statute (you outgrew Boy#1 pretty much as soon as you could stand up to be measured) and those rosy cheeks, we spent your pre-adolescent years measuring epinephrine into the nebulizer and waiting for the ensuing rush of hyperactivity that would accompany your re-acquaintance with breathing. You spent several months sleeping in leg braces for a tibial torsion and broke off your front teeth almost as soon as they grew in. Your physical complications were pretty straightforward, though, compared to your...
  2. Kind of freakish math abilities. This was not a bad thing, you realize, but it is a complication for a mother to realize that her four-year-old has taught himself how to work percentages. One of your grandmother used to tell of the time you were playing cards and you were in charge of adding up the score. She gently urged you to write your numbers more legibly, and you pointed out (quite reasonably) that the preschool hadn't taught you how to write numbers yet. But your math abilities might have flown under the radar if it weren't for...
  3. An excess of competitive spirit. Is that a good way to say it? That being one of four boys brought out the I-MUST-WIN in all of you and there were days when I thought none of you would ever have any friends because when friends play games with friends at least one friend will not WIN and all of you had trouble with that concept when the winner turned out to be Not You. 
But guess what? All of those boyhood complications have contributed to your being a pretty nice man. Always being taller than everyone in your class until you went off to college meant that you were expected to mature a lot earlier than your classmates because you simply looked older than you were. That helped you be a leader. Your math abilities have stood you in good stead, thank you very much, Duke University, for the spot in the doctoral program. And your competitive spirit, while it hasn't diminished, has become much more socially appropriate and you have fabulous friends who are among my favorite people.

You are kind and thoughtful, funny and caring, and I could not be prouder of you.

I only wish you were here so I could bake you a chocolate cake with dinosaur sprinkles.


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