“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy” -Simon and Garfunkel
It is the eve of your seventh birthday, the seventh anniversary of one of my darkest nights. Earlier today I recalled overhearing the doctors and the anesthesiologist arguing about the epidural. The doctors were demanding it and the anesthesiologist was afraid that my platelets were too low to do so. The doctors won and I don’t think I will ever forget Dad and I signing the papers giving consent to save my legs instead of you, in case the needle should slip and somehow paralyze me. After your dad signed, he was told he had to wait in the hallway. One day he will tell you that wait was the longest of his life. By the time he came back, the needle was in, but I started to bleed out and was rushed to an emergency c-section. The doctors were right. If they hadn’t insisted, you would not be here.
Somewhere in that flurry of activity, your dad named you. He must have been keeping the name Quinn in his back pocket those first twenty-five weeks. He pulled it out when the only thing I cared about was not dying. It suits you, though, my mighty Quinn. Sometimes your dad is pretty smart. This week you two went to camp Minikani for your first grade overnight field trip. You came home exhausted, smelling like musky cabins and mud.
I cannot believe that you will be seven in the morning. You are at an age yet where most of life is pretty chill. You spent your summer drawing in your studio (the living room) in your underpants. Your Instagram gallery was born. You went to swimming lessons every day (never made it past level 1, but you had a ball). You are young enough that no one has really hurt your heart yet.
The vulnerability of age 7 is fleeting. The change from year to year is so subtle and then, before you know it, you will start to feel the world in a way that gets further and further away from groovy. So, dearest boy, I hope you spend all of seven playing. Play and draw and cut up all that Amazon.com cardboard and turn it into TV’s and goggles and open concept birdhouses. Play out loud and alone, singing to each of your stuffed animals, animating the voices to your cars, cutting away at your sculptures with your extra sharp left handed scissors. If you can refrain from drawing characters on the remaining fleece sweatshirts in your drawers though, that would be fantastic, but even that, kid … if it brings you joy, go for it.
Play and imagine and anticipate the tooth fairy and Santa and the idea of a future new puppy (I know, I know, we promised that as soon as Will graduates, she is yours). We will spend seven snuggling in your bed, reading stories, building lego kits. Soak it all in so you know who you are at heart. I love seven. Too young for anyone to insult you on social media, offer you vodka, break your heart, insult you… ah, can you tell you are growing up with teenaged siblings?
It’s more than that, though. Today you told me that you had a bad dream. You dreamt that you and I were living in a lonely, empty house with one tree in the yard. There were ten kids outside and you were the eleventh kid. A raccoon walked into the house and you told it that you didn’t like him and he needed to go away. All the other kids liked him so you weren’t able to play with them until you made up with the raccoon. I guess that dream made me realize that you are starting to worry in a new way. There must be a sliver of yourself that feels like an outsider sometimes. On the other hand, you told me that you want a laser pointer and a remote control helicopter for your birthday, so it’s a relief to know that 98% of you is all kid.
I love you, Q. You always say, “I love you more,” and then I say, “not possible.” May your seventh year be wide open to possibility and joy. Happy birthday to my dreamer, my peacemaker, my lover of all things stuffed. -Mom