Life has been a blur since your arrival nine years ago. You’ve been on the run from the age of 9 months when you took your first steps and you haven’t slowed down since. I’ve been spending this entire time trying to keep up with you knowing very well that my energy level is nowhere close to yours and while you would think I would have outstanding fitness as a result, the only thing I’m left with is grey hair and bad knees. People who boast that children bring the fountain of youth clearly have not been your caregiver.
In your early years, so many moments were spent on edge trying to predict when you were going to lose your shit. When you had enough, you let everyone know. I knew escape routes in most stores we visited. I had a plethora of snacks in my purse at all times. I lived in constant fear. While I no longer live like I’m on the frontlines of battle, the scars are still visible. You are a relatively easy going kid now and are game for most of the spontaneous adventures thrown at you. You’re still the only kid I know who can run a 5k, immediately play in a lacrosse game and then walk around downtown playing Pokemon for two hours. Your energy astounds me.
You have an innate athletic ability. Most sports come easy to you because you have natural abilities. Now, when something is not relatively easy for you and requires a little extra effort, you are quick to tap out. Work is not something you’re interested in. Whether that be sports or school, if you don’t get it the first time, chances are you’ve already lost interest. This can be incredibly frustrating especially when I’m just trying to help you get through your nightly math homework. Most nights do not end on positive notes as a result.
We often joke in this house that Olivia is the emotional rollercoaster and while her moods are in a constant state of flux, there is no doubt that you are dealing with your own emotions. You are very sensitive and very attuned to other people’s feelings. One of the things I love about you the most is your ability to connect with another in difficult moments. I’m reminded of a moment last year while you were in second grade and your teacher had asked to speak with me after school. Now, I’m immediately thinking you’re in trouble. What amazing choice did you make and what monetary amount do I owe as a result? Your teacher had asked if I knew about a note that was written by you and left on his desk. I had not. The teacher had a difficult run in class with a group of students and probably displayed his frustrations publicly. You decided to write a note of encouragement to him. While I didn’t see the note personally, your teacher summarized it by saying you mentioned how you know he has a very difficult job as a teacher but he’s very good at his job. While you’re sorry he’s having difficult days, he should never quit his job because he is the best at what he does and things will get better. I knew nothing about this note or your intentions and was shocked that you recognized this and took initiative to make it better. My ultimate goal as a parent is to raise good human beings who make things better, not worse. In this moment, you gave me hope that maybe I’m doing something right.
Today you turn 9 years old and when I close my eyes and think really hard, I can remember the first time I held you and how your tiny body felt in my arms and the sweet smell emitting from the top of your head. While today those smells are very different–hello body odor–the hugs are just as good and I will keep helping myself to them for as long as you let me.
My birthday wishes for you: continue to run for as far as your legs will carry you. Don’t be embarrassed to cry. It’s ok to be scared of the dark, aliens, monsters, shadows, books, clowns, your sister in the morning. Be friends with people who make you laugh often. Say goodbye to the peers who make you sad. Be proud of your tan lines–it means you are an Irish kid who enjoys spending most of his time outdoors. Always ask yourself if you packed too many types of crackers in your lunch–chances are the answer is yes and you should replace two of them with a piece of fruit. Always call deodorant, armpit lotion. Don’t throw new pitches in a game that you have never practiced. Be kind to your sister. Nothing will make you feel better than doing the work.
Dad and I love you more than the universe and we will always love you even when you make bad choices. We know you try. Most of the time…
Happy Birthday, my Miles.