Happy Birthday, One-Year-Old!

posted August 24, 2009


Jay turned one today. He is figuring out how to walk, slowly and deliberately, taking a few steps and losing his balance, tumbling down and then getting up and trying again. Every day he gets a little better at it. He is so different from his sister, who took three steps, took 6 weeks off, and then suddenly found her feet in Winnipeg and never crawled again.

Each year on Elle’s birthday, I write her a letter which I seal and mark “Do not open until….” with a date eighteen years in the future. My friend Joan Wise’s father did this for her, so that starting on her eighteenth birthday she had a communication from her dad from almost two decades earlier. I want to do this for Jay too. I feel an urgency about making things “fair” between my two kids, though so far it’s impossible to treat them the same. They’re not the same. My love for them is certainly equal in that both loves are infinite and boundless, but they are different people at different stages of their lives. For instance, my parents called today to find out how Jay’s party was last night. “Did he like it?” my mother asked.

“Yes, I guess so,” I said. Jay likes everything pretty much. “But really the night was about Elle and her cousin W. They spent the entire evening shouting joyfully. W wanted to talk about the Beatles and Elle wanted to hold his hand. Also they wanted to find as many ways as they could to talk about poop without losing their dessert privileges.” They blew out Jay’s candles and played with his toys. Of course he didn’t seem to mind.

At church today, the service was all about Arnold. It turned into a Quaker memorial, with people standing up and sharing stories. My friend MF told me a story that Elle’s babysitter had shared with her. Last week, on Tuesday, Elle said to the babysitter, “Our friend Arnold died.”
“I know,” said the babysitter. “He was my friend too. Are you sad, Elle?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Because,” Elle said. “When I close my eyes, I can still see him.” And she scrunched up her face. “You try it.”
The babysitter obliged. “You’re right, Elle. I can still see him!”
“See?” said Elle. “It works. He isn’t gone.”

Baby boy, may you always be fearless. May you always laugh the way you do when your sister says, “poop!” May you always holler when you need more attention and then make sweet contented sounds when we rightly turn your way. And may you always know just how hugely you are loved.

The Comments

Join the Conversation. Post with kindness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More Like This

Poem Nov. 2

Tuesday is for the turn you took that I could not have prevented, that no one saw, especially not you. Wednesday is for the hospital johnny they put you in,…

I Might Have to Hang a Flag (Rightside Up) Off My Porch

I might have to purchase an American flag and hang it on my porch. I come from a family of patriots. Every July 4 my mother dressed my sisters and…

How to Get Through Horrifying Process of Literary Agent Submissions

I have reached a critical point in the list of orderly steps in the long march to publication which I have been given by others and have dutifully written down. They are/were as follows:

1.     Write the shitty first draft
2.     Read it and make less shitty
3.     Send it to Kind & Wise Mentory Editor Who Has Read James Joyce
4.     Laugh and cry as you read her Kind & Wise suggestions; take 99% of them. Redraft.
5.     Send new draft to 28-Year-Old Editor Who Doesn’t Remember President Nixon But Is Much Smarter Than I
6.     Enjoy life with no novel to think about and write songs and poems while 28 y-o reads and edits draft.
7.     Receive edits from 28-y-o and cry for a month. Decide you are not a novelist. Pick yourself up off the carpet and have a Zoom call with her in which she tells you she had a very hard time editing your novel because it was practically perfect.
8.     Wonder if you are crazy.
9.     Take 69% of her suggestions and finish the draft.
10.  Write a synopsis which is harder than writing the novel
11.  Write the query letter which is harder than writing the synopsis
12.  Make a list of agents you’d love to work with by finding names in the acknowledgements pages of your favorite novels. Cross off the dead ones.