To My Firstborn On His 10th Birthday

Dear E,

It’s Thursday night, June 6th, 2019. Tonight marks a whole decade since I went to the hospital to have the first procedure of my induction, because you were already 9 days late. You were born two days later, utterly uprooting and replanting our lives with your arrival.

This evening, you and I took a walk together. I let you pick the direction at every intersection, so it ended up being quite a long walk. It was an absolutely beautiful, perfect evening – perfectly mild without being hot, blue sky dusking, and ALL the flowers out. You said, “So, what should we talk about?”

We talked a lot about your friends at school. This has been a good year in which all of your closest friends are in your class, and you never pick just one “best” one because they’re all important to you. We also talked about your birthday coming up, as well as your favourite cars from Horizon Chase, and a few other random things.

Early in the walk, you took my hand, and held it for most of our trek. I almost can’t believe I still get to have this – I always leave hand-holding up to you, and it makes me so happy when you choose it (fairly often, at least for a minute or two, when we’re walking somewhere together).

It has been years since I’ve written about you properly. I’ve partly backed off because you are getting old enough to know about the internet, and I don’t feel like it’s my prerogative to tell the world your big-kid stories… And also, the lack of birthday posts is basically because your birthday just happens to fall at the craziest time of year. For the last six years, I’ve been gone for a week of OELC just prior to your birthday, and I come home and hit the ground running to finish report cards (as well as preparing for your birthday and the dance troupe show). But every year, I want to focus in and just talk about you. This blog is as much a record for me as anything else.

Right now, on the cusp of ten, you are sweet, gentle, smart, affectionate. You have a funny, artistic soul. You are also damn ornery sometimes, and a bit of a pessimist. As is to be expected, you alternately adore and despise your little sister. You love Minecraft and Roblox and Lego, and you phase in and out of all the things you have loved (never completely quitting any of them). Whenever we think you’re starting to outgrow something, like Hot Wheels, for example, you remember it and fall in love all over again.

You also have lots of access to nostalgia, for such a young kid. You would happily hold on to every toy forever, out of respect for and attachment to your younger self. You still sometimes miss our old house. You sigh for your younger days, when life was simpler. (Believe me, I feel you.)

Maybe this is partly why you relate so well to little kids. You have been happy to go on our trips to Storybook Park with our friend families, even though you’re the oldest by a lot. You like playing with the smaller kids, you enjoy their cute faces, and so far, you are not too cool for any of it. You still have plenty of wonder and playfulness in you. I hope you never lose those gifts.

One of my favourite anecdotes ever was hearing from your after-school caregiver about a particular time on the school yard, when some dad was asking around to find out who was responsible for you. That’s usually an anxious moment because one thinks, “Uh-oh, what did my kid do wrong?” But in your case, the dad just wanted to say that he was impressed by how gentle and kind you were being with the really small kids on the playground. Seriously, a mama’s heart could burst with pride. I hope that gentleness serves you well, as it has your dad – because we need that in the world.

You love music, and have started making playlists on the iPad of your favourite songs. This year – and I feel confident in saying that you must be the only ten-year-old IN THE WORLD for whom this is true – your two favourite musical artists are Alaa Wardi and The Odd Man Who Sings About Poop, Puke and Pee. It makes me super-happy when I come upon you in your room, singing along beautifully to Alaa Wardi in Arabic (neither of us understands it, but you sound great to me). AND, let it please stand as a testament to our great love for you that we have agreed to listen to poop songs during your birthday breakfast.

E, happy 10th birthday, and welcome to double-digits. We love you so much. You are one of a kind, and it is a privilege to watch you grow up.

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