Check out that little hand on mine, the last of the baby-fat knuckles soon to disappear, the scratch of a play-hard life unfolding just as it should, the ever-present mystery dirt under the fingernails that I've given up all hope of ever abolishing ... my baby's hand, my last baby's hand, my little boy, my growing boy, my son. On this, his ninth birthday, I offer him this humble tribute.
You are into all things scientific right now, so let me explain to you how you funkytowned your way into this world. You were upside-down and backward -- breech -- and doctors had to do something called an external cephalic version to flip you into the correct position. You were due March 20; they performed this procedure today, March 3, your birthday. It took two doctors' four hands plus one doc's elbows to flip you over, and I'm pretty sure I sprained your dad's thumb in the process, because, Sweet Jesus, that hurt! These docs swore that they had never had an ECV fail such that a baby had to be delivered immediately -- and, to some extent, they were right. The ECV didn't fail, but your umbilical cord was wrapped around your head in such a way that they decided you had to be made to come that day, two and a half weeks early. Since your sister was two weeks overdue, I wasn't quite ready for you to be, by that calendar, like a month early. Instead of my carefully-planned routine of a packed bag and a boombox with carefully-chosen classical music -- your sister, for example, came into the world to Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique -- I put on my iPod headphones and listened to "Southern Cross" two-hundred times on repeat. Thank God for David Crosby singing you into this world, and darned if the differences in tunes don't in some way explain the differences between you and your sister!
While the docs may have successfully flipped you, and while I may have delivered you naturally at the end of a long and somewhat-scary day, attempts to keep you from coming into the world upside-down and backward did not thwart your natural tendencies to go your own way. Thank God for that. You are always up a tree or on something with wheels or moving moving moving somehow, for you have only two speeds: go, and sleep. I wouldn't have it any other way. You keep me on my toes, sometimes literally, as I reach to lift you down from atop something-or-other, knowing that part of the reason you climb so hard is that a) you have my climbing genes, and b) you know I'll be there to help you out if you're stuck. Please always keep exploring; Mama will always be there when you need a hand.
I wondered what it'd be like to have a son after having such a girlie-girl daughter. I feared it a bit; whatever would I do with a BOY? Your sister showed me. Aside from your parents, *nobody* will ever love you as much as your sister, and I'm pretty sure that nobody -- parents included -- will ever have as much patience with you, either. She not only plays with you (ok, when she feels like it, sure, she is a teenager!), but she also listens to your hundred thousand questions and engages you intellectually. Seek that from everyone around you. You are fast reaching the point where you will no longer suffer fools gladly because you are so. darned. smart. And those conversations with your sister that you've been having about stuff like nuclear energy are a prime example of what you should seek from people who will be at the heart of your life. Never stop talking with each other about the stuff about which you're passionate, and your sibling bond will be tight as duct tape.
Our bond will be that tight, too, son, especially after this year in which your larger-than-average brain has been exceeded only by your larger-than-life heart. You touch me in so many ways each day, like last week, when I was bemoaning the healthcare changes I had to make because of a doctor's office snafu, delaying a non-urgent visit and kinda souring my day. You said, "Mama, I have $57, and you can use it to go and see the doctor now if you want, and I don't even need it back." That's the kid you are -- that kid, the kid who tries to make easier the life of those around you, the kid who builds his mom Lego creations to keep on her computer desk so that you're with her while she works, the kid who keeps us all in stitches laughing because no kid ever in the history of man has ever been as funny as you, even when it's last night at dinner when you have a bag over your head in a restaurant and are bumping into everything in sight and totally out of control because of too much sugar. I rarely can correct such questionable behavior because I'm too busy laughing.
In the past year, you've made a new BFF who seems to share your raging intellect and fascination with all things scientific. You've written a book on velociraptors and have begun one on explaining chaose theory to kids, summed up by you as "life always finds a way." You still love baseball, but you've also fallen in love with sailing. Someday, Son, I'll sail with you to see the Southern Cross. That'll seem full circle.
'Til then, and long after, may you always be near good climbing trees, good libraries, and good friends and family to keep that fabulous mind of your stimulated. Enjoy this last year of single-digitdom; I'm quite sure I will.
You (and your sister) are my heart - xoxo Mama