Tuesday, September 23, 2008


You were born on September 23rd, 2004 at 9:50 PM mountain time. “Hey, it’s Bruce Springsteen’s birthday too,” we said, laughing and singing "Born to Run" in the delivery room. You are four today, and I’m already doing that thing that parents do when they realize that in the blink of an eye, you’re going to pack up your 2017 vegetable oil-powered Subaru and speed away into your future because you’re THAT excited about what’s next. I’m a little misty, I’m a little verklempt. I realized on your 2nd birthday, the only one in which you would double your age in one year, that you weren’t going to stay little for very long. At the time, this was really good news. Today you’re twice the person you were last year, even if you’re only one year older, and I find myself trying to slam on the breaks. (See also: Good luck with all that.)

I couldn’t be prouder of you. You’re already the kindest person I know, with a self-awareness that I didn’t possess…ever, maybe. My friend Carol calls you “the future president of the United States” and says you’re the oldest soul she’s ever known. This is what friends are for, to tell you that you’ve managed to produce the finest person since Thomas Jefferson (who was born on my birthday, by the by.) But these are the things that stick with me: You can make friends anywhere, even if it’s a dog, or a bug, or a kid who doesn’t speak English. And you are able to give an unapologetic voice to your needs. As a woman who is guilty too often of torturing herself for needing anything at all, I can’t tell you what a relief it is that you’ve always been able to tell me what you need, and ask for what you want. I’m trying not to mess that up.

That day I was trying to hurry you into your car seat, and you looked at me, tearful, and said, “I’m fragile today” made me grateful beyond measure for your way with words. What a relief that you can at least tell me what’s wrong, or what’s right, even if I fail to listen right away. The night I was trying to get dinner made, despite your whiny requests for milk, for a snack, for some paper and markers, you finally said, “I need attention.” Dinner waited that night, our schedule got all messed up, and nobody died; in fact, we were all better off for it.

You’ve decided lately that your old man is OK. In fact, you’re pretty sure he’s cooler and funner than the rest of us. I knew this day would come; it doesn’t make it any easier, though. After four years of your unabashed worship, it’s downright painful to pass on the baton, even if it does make bathtime, bedtime, and life in general a little easier. I have my own plans, that’s true, but the day you decided to join “Boy Team” as you call it, I considered setting them on fire. You are joining the legions of all the other creatures I’ve brought home who have adopted the habit of ignoring me until sick or hurt, at which point you all come limping back to me. That’s OK. Let the record show that, no matter what, I will be your Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. I will be the president of your fan club. I will be your teacher, your student, your sidekick. And I will continue to uphold the doctrine your father and I carved into stone the day we learned of your existence: We will love you, whoever you are.