I have been carrying around the same school ID card since the day I was hospitalized in 2010. I went to school, got my picture taken. I was wearing lavender. Then, over lunch, I went for an ultrasound and did not return to school for a month. Ask any teacher what the worst months are for having kids and they will answer “the first week of September and the middle of May.” Somehow, I managed to do both.
When I think about your birth I see myself, sitting alone on a hospital bed, late at night, after all my visitors had gone home and I was left with just the buzz of the antepartum unit, watching Weeds on Netflix, and singing to my premature belly, quietly. I sang Leona Naess’s Ballerina over and over and over again:
I didn’t think I wanted you
But I want you now
Was so empty in me
Feel you crashing down
Into the empty world
The music stops
I want to rescue want to scream out loud
You will always be mine
So so sorry
Just come back for me now
So so sorry
Just come back to me now
I am really so glad, Quinn, that you decided to stay. Our lives are so much richer and funnier and smarter because of you. At four, you are chatty and quiet all at once. You are madly in love with your stuffed friends, Teddy and Bunny and Pupford and today, you fell for a robotic goldfish from your uncle Chris. You named it Globefish and you grabbed him from his bowl and carried him in your lap the entire way to drop Lizzie off at volleyball practice and pick up William from volleyball practice(you have seen more volleyball in your four short years than most adults ever have). You wanted to remember to take a bath with Globefish when we came back from all of our chasing, but you fell asleep in the car, Starbucks chocolate chip cookie remnants plastered to your lips, and the last thing you said as you drifted off was, “I want a taco.”
You scared us quite a bit last week, when you were rushed to Children’s Hospital and admitted for a severe asthma attack that came out of nowhere. Once stabilized, you fully enjoyed being in the hospital, peeing in a bottle, “room service,”and waking around with your IV pole. To watch you go from barely breathing and the threat of the ICU,to a few days later, having the energy and breath to blow out all four of your candles, is yet another reminder that all things are possible. No one knows that lesson better than you do and you seem to keep showing me again and again and again:
In the morning, Dad will take you to school to share four photos exactly and celebrate your big day. I told Sean that he would have to sing the Montessori birthday song, and after all this time, he did not know what that was (I always did the birthday celebrations at school, but you, kiddo, September 3rd? First day of class? Not gonna happen). I sang, LOUDLY, to Sean, “The earth goes around the sun, tra-la-la, the earth goes around the sun,” but he did not let me get to four verses. He stopped me midway through tra-la-la, with the words, “Please stop.” If ever I were to be a fly on the wall, it would be to witness your dad singing tra-la-la.
So happy birthday, sweet boy. I wish you could remain four for more than a year. From past experience, I will tell you that it is an especially great year, one in which you drift between toddlerhood and childhood, hanging on to the wonder of one and reaching for the magic of the next. You getting more curious with each passing day. This week you asked me to name body parts that you did not know the words for (collarbone, vertebrae, and testicle … thanks for that, by the way) and then replied, “I just have so many round things,” which made me laugh and also recall one of my favorite quotes from “A Sketchbook with Voices,” that reads, “Our heads are round so that our thinking can change direction.” I hope that as you grow, you continue to wonder, to explore, to change your mind about things, to see things in a new light.
As for me, you are my light, and through you, I see things anew every single day and I am grateful for that beyond measure. It’s why every mom cries when they sing, “You are my sunshine.” Just the mere thought of you ever going away, just the suggestion of it through the whisper of a lyric, is enough to bring us to our knees. You, my dear, are powerful and amazing, and I love you. You are, as Leona Naess sings, “my cupcake and my earthquake.”