Tag Archives: birthday tradition

Nine Years Old

5504996471Dear 9-Year-Old,

I’ve always railed against my children growing older. But none more than you. You may be a big sister and a school kid and a joke-teller and a rider of three-wheeled bikes… but you are still my baby.

You’ve gotten so tall lately. Objectively, I know that’s not true, since you aren’t even on the growth chart for your age and only hit 5th percentile on the Down Syndrome version. But each night when you climb into my lap and we sing our made-just-for-you-that-moment lullaby, you are all lanky arms and legs. When you dance with arms akimbo, they seem to stretch so far and so wide. When you “stir” the salad for dinner, you don’t even need a stool anymore. You are still my baby, but you are getting big.

Not just physically either. You are becoming more independent. You like to play on your own in your room, then tell us the story about your latest pretend, or that dream you had last night. You occasionally tidy up without being asked. You prefer to read at school with your teachers and bask in the familiar routine of listening to Mommy at home, but you’ve begun to interject a word here and there when we read Caps For Sale and Dr. Suess. When we can bribe you to read a book on your own, it is always a masterpiece in my ears – especially your silly favourite, No, David, where each page brings a new gale of uproarious laughter.

You are someone who loves to laugh. What your jokes may lack in intelligibility you more than make up for in sheer enthusiasm. I may not understand every word of the build up, but when you shout “MEATBALL!” then crumple into a fit of giggles… I can’t help but join in.

You are a gentle soul, the first of my children to pet me when I’m sick and reassure me when I’m sad. No matter how spitting mad you might get (literally spitting over and over again), it doesn’t occur to you to hurt someone. You are sensitive and have a great capacity for kindness. You are the cheerleader of the entire world – you say “Good job!” to everyone: the lady who waited on our table, the man painting the walls at school, your sister for opening the door… every classmate for every accomplishment. You offer applause at every turn. We clap a lot at our house.

In a world of pretenders, you live without masks or defenses. This isn’t always socially acceptable, but it’s often refreshing. We don’t wonder how you feel or what you want.

You are easy to love. Not always easy to parent, with your iron will and refusal to be rushed through life. But effortlessly and entirely loveable!

I don’t care if you are nine-year-old or ninety, you are still my baby.

I love you!

Happy Birthday!

Mom

And now, from Daddy…

Dear B,

How can my baby girl be 9 already? It hardly seems possible. And yet I can hardly deny it. Wherever I look, I see signs that you are growing up.

This was a year when some things that you’ve been working very hard on for a very long time really started to snap into place for you. You’re a stubborn little girl, and that comes with some challenges to be sure, but it also comes with a tenacious drive to accomplish whatever you set your mind to.

We were so excited when you brought a book home from school and read it to us for the very first time. Your favourite teacher, “Ms. Smelling” spent time with you every day at school, helping you learn how to read. We were amazed at how quickly you learned, and the proud beam on your face as you read to us showed that you knew just how big an accomplishment it was.

And then there’s potty training. We’ve been working on that for six years, and sometimes it seems like it’s never going to end! But this summer, you made up your mind: this is going to happen! We’re not done yet, but we can see that day coming… and when it comes, boy are we going to celebrate!

And that’s what’s wonderful about being your daddy. You celebrate harder than anyone I know, putting your whole body into it: singing, dancing, laughing, jumping. You are absolutely infectious; the grumpiest person in the world can’t help but smile when you’re excited. And you make your daddy so proud when you belt out Airborne songs at the top of your lungs as we drive around in the blue van!

I think Ms. Smelling said it best. She wrote a paper about you, and she expressed how we all feel about B:

“You have been and will continue to be a source of joy, humour, inspiration, and learning. You have been the greatest gift and teacher I have ever known; unknowingly you have led me to a greater understanding of what is truly important in life.”

There’s nothing more important in my life than being your daddy. I love you Becca. Happy birthday!

Love,
Daddy

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The Magic and The Misery of Turning 11

2956539243I sent my 10-year-old to spend a few nights with her cousins.

Tomorrow I’ll get an 11-year-old back.

Nothing has really changed in the course of a day. You’ll be pretty much the same kid you were before. This growing up thing is so slow we barely see it. Over the course of this day and the next and the one after that… and pretty soon 365 days of barely noticeable changes leave their mark. This year, more than any other before, you will grow up.

Ten was a great year! You were still young enough to enjoy silliness, and insist your Dad piggyback you downstairs to bed each night, and draw pictures for me to put on my mirror, and tell me every detail of every thing that happened and how you felt about it and what you thought. You were old enough to watch interesting shows on TV I actually want to see too (like “Get Out Alive” and “Top Chef”), and make us laugh with your sly wit, and talk about things like the evils of marketing and consumerism and fair trade (or at least pipe in with a few thoughts before rolling your eyes). I’ve always thought of myself as a baby-person, but I think I enjoyed you as a 10-year-old, more than any other age!

I hate to say it, but… it gets complicated from here on out.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another “beautiful-changes-your-body-is-going-to-experience” talks (I know how much you enjoy those). That’s definitely part of it, but there’s more. Over the next few years your relationships – with friends, with your family and, yes, with boys *shudder* – will get more and more complex. Your choices and opportunities and temptations will get bigger and more important. Your feeeeeeeeelings…. oh, all the feelings… will get stronger and louder and more confusing and more exciting and more all-consuming. It’s horrible and wonderful all at once.

You’ll probably think I don’t understand and couldn’t possibly know how you feel and am so out of touch I don’t have any good advice left under my belt. Sometimes, you’ll be right.

But no matter what…
No matter how frustrated we are with each other
No matter how long we’ve talked circles around each other
No matter how busy, and distracted, and overwhelmed I am by all the other things in life

YOU are important to me!
One of the MOST important people.
One of my FAVOURITE people in the whole world.
And that’ll never change.
Because
nothing and no one can love you like I do!

So bring on 11. We’re ready for you.

Bring on the emotional intensity – because that’s something we already have in common. It’s exuberance, which makes us fun to be around… aaaaand it’s temper and overreaction, which is slightly less fun. Bite your tongue. Take a deep breath. Respond, don’t react. I’ll try to do the same.

Bring on the laughs and the silliness (because the best people never outgrow that entirely) and the subtle wit that comes with age (and all-around general awesomeness). Of all the qualities you have, your sense of humour is one I’m most proud of. It’s more than just fun – it’s an instant connection to other people and it’s an important coping mechanism when life inevitably gets hard. I’d just as soon send my children out into the world naked, than have them tackle adulthood without a decent sense of humour. One piece of advice about our favourite form of humour: sarcasm is like a strong seasoning; apply lightly and skillfully and it works, but too much, in the wrong time and place, leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. You are the Queen of Snark; wield it well.

Finally, bring on the social butterfly. You are already the only extrovert in a house full of introverts (since the 3-year-old doesn’t really count yet). I’ll admit, this isn’t something I understand or relate to. Much like you don’t “get” why we all like to stay home, or sit quietly, or be alone. On the other hand, you’re ALWAYS looking for a party. I’ll try to remember that you NEED a lot of people time and a lot of talking time… and a lot of me-listening-to-you time. At 11, I’ll enjoy the fact that you’re still happy to party here, at home, with us.

Bring on 11, with all the feelings and all the fun. You’re going to love it!
Happy Birthday!
Love Mom

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And now… a letter from Dad:

Dear C,

I’m writing this letter the night before your birthday, but you’re not going to receive it on your birthday. That’s because, for the first time ever, we’re not going to see you on August 20.

You’ve been away a lot this summer: camping with P… a week at summer camp… staying at Lake Okanagan for five extra days… and now a couple nights at Opa and Oma’s as you take on the role of Junior Leader for the second time this summer.

You’ve been reminding me all week that you only have a few more days of having to order off the kids menu at White Spot. But the truth is, you don’t have to remind me. I can see the evidence all around me: you are not a little kid anymore.

I see it in the way you care for the little ones – S and B, yes, but also your younger cousins, and the kids that you’re helping with at all these summer camps.

I see it in the jokes you tell – no longer silly kids’ jokes that I have to pretend are funny, but the kind of dry, sarcastic wit that I actually find hilarious (and that I like to think you got from me).

I see it in the books that you read, and in the movies and TV shows that we love watching together. I see it in the clothes you wear, and the wild colours in your hair.

I see it in the pictures that you draw – already easily the best artwork produced by any member of the family. I see it in your hip hop moves, and your courage in enrolling in the dance class that you don’t want to take, so you can take the one that you do.

I see it in the hours you spend texting your friend on your iPod – already.

When I see the young lady you have become and are becoming, I see my pride and joy. I see passion, I see persistence, and I see love. I couldn’t be happier with what I see.

Happy Birthday C!

Love,
Dad


The 3 Year Old

6003559370Every year on their birthdays, Glen and I write a Birthday Letter to each of our kids. What they were like that year. What strengths and talents we see in them. What words of wisdom we have for them.

Someday, they might even appreciate the gesture.

From Mom…

I write about you ALL the time! This past year you’ve hogged the ink in my journal and the word count on my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I’m overdoing it. If one day, you’ll look back and shake your head at all the gushing and worrying and over-analyzing. Will I embarrass you?

A decade from now, I can practically guarantee it. But right now, you don’t know the meaning of the word. That might be the best part of being 3. Especially a 3-year-old YOU!

You are wholeheartedly and unabashedly yourself. You have no use for limits at all…

Not social conventions.

Not medical diagnoses.

Not the laws of gravity.

Not fences or child-proof locks or boundaries.

And while this tendency can be both exhausting and terrifying for us, I hope you don’t lose it entirely.

You are my exuberant, half-wild, but entirely charming boy! This year we will try to keep our wits and keep you alive, without taming you completely. If you need to run, run toward us, not away. If you need to climb, chose somewhere safe. If you need adventure, take us with you.

You are a fearless explorer in perpetual motion! Right now your most common phrase is “I GO TOO!” as you race as fast as your little legs can go toward your next adventure. You were not made for sitting still. Or staying in bed, apparently, which has caused no end of late night power struggles and overtired shenanigans. I know it’s hard for you to downshift from your high speed lifestyle, but trust me, sleep is good.

You have one of the happiest natures I’ve ever seen! While your moments of frustration are impressively loud and passionate, once the tantrum has passed, that toothy grin comes back in full force. Happy is your default setting. And you’re always eager to share the sunshine. Our Child Development Worker coined the phrase “aggressively affectionate” to describe you. Not all your friends and cousins appreciate the full-body tackle-hug the way we do, so this year we’ll work on reading people’s cues and showing love in other ways. If all else fails, know that Mommy is ALWAYS up for one of your tight-squeezy-whole-body-melting-into-it-Hugs (ALWAYS… like, this offer will not expire during the teen years or adulthood or, you know, ever).

You are an adorable chatterbox! This goes against all the boy-girl stereotypes, which shouldn’t surprise me, since I know how you feel about staying in bounds. Without a doubt, you are the most talkative child we’ve ever had. This time last year, you only had a handful of words, which you rarely used, but you’ve blown us (and your speech therapist) away with your progress lately. They call it a developmental leap. I call it, Unleashing Your Inner Announcer. Wherever we go, whatever we do, your cute little voice gives an enthusiastic running commentary.

I’m not going to lie. You keep us hopping. I’ve reached heretofore unknown regions of exhaustion this past year. But chaos has never been so fun.

I love being your Mom!

Happy Birthday 3 year old!

From Dad…

Dear S,

When I wrote your birthday letter last year, I barely knew you. We were still just figuring out this whole daddy-son thing, and you had just had your entire world turned upside down. New home. New family. New food. New routines. Everything – new.

One year later, we’ve all come a long way. We’ve learned to anticipate at least some of your moves, and you’ve learned how to play us to get your way sometimes too.

If I could sum up the past year in one word, it would be RUNNING. You, running, always on the move, finding ways to escape just when we thought we had you locked down, creating danger where we thought we had ensured safety. Us, running, trying to keep up with you, attempting to even get one step,ahead… occasionally.

You’ve forced us to become more creative and resourceful. If we’re not trying every strategy under the sun to keep you in your bed at night, we’re divining inventive ways to make it impossible for you to climb the deck railing and fall into the backyard two stories below.

You’ve forced us into action. For a family that loved their peace, quiet and a good book, the addition of a hyper-energetic little dude who can’t sit still for a second was quite the adjustment. It’s been good for us.

Most of all, you’ve forced us to love. Not that we didn’t love before, and not that it was against our will. But you, my son, are undeniably lovable. Sometimes we get frustrated by your latest escapade, but then you flash us that ear-to-ear grin and instantly transform our righteous anger into laughter. It’s really not fair. But it’s probably going to get you out of all kinds of trouble over the years. Because who can resist?

So here’s to you. Happy Birthday 3-year-old! And just so you know, I’ve been working on the assumption that by the time you’re four, our life will be slightly less frantic. Do you think maybe we can make that happen… please?

Love,

Daddy


8 Years Old

Total honesty… not the cupcakes I made for B’s Dr. Suess birthday, yet. These are the ones I’m planning to make. I’m sure they’ll look JUST like this. Really!
from goodlifeeats.com

One more birthday letter for the year…

First up, my favourite Guest Poster: the Dad.

Dear B,

As you’ve been telling me for weeks, you’re 8! Today it’s finally true! And, since you’ve been telling me “Happy Birthday Daddy!” several times a day for the past year, today I’m thrilled to be able to say, “Happy Birthday B!”

It’s been another year of adventure for us with you, as we wait with expectation for your next surprise that will have us laughing loud and long. Often it involves layer upon layer of dress-up clothes. Lately it’s involved you shouting, “Blow me down, guys!” and when we do, you teeter and squeal and eventually fall down backwards. Of course, once you got one laugh, we were destined to play this game about 800 times. That’s okay though; it’s still just as funny as the first time.

This was the year your world got rocked. After almost 8 years as the unchallenged ‘baby’ of the family, there’s suddenly a new baby on the block – one who’s not afraid to stake his claim to everyone and everything in our house!

There was no way to fully prepare you for what was coming when we decided to add S to our family. As much as we talked about him and explained that a new brother was coming to live with you, we couldn’t really help you understand what was about to go down.

We worried about how you were going to react to this new little person competing for our time and attention – not to mention your toys! And, truth be told, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. You gave us a good run for our money for a little while there, finding ways to get our focus back on you, for better or worse.

But through it all, I was amazed at how you loved S. If you were upset about all the changes, you didn’t take it out on him. You’re not known for your patience, but I think you’ve been extraordinarily patient as you and your brother have adjusted to each other. You’ve shared – often willingly – and you’ve been a wonderful, loving big sister.

You’ve also grown up in ways that I didn’t foresee. Maybe Mommy and I being busier than normal has caused you to try things for yourself instead of waiting for us to help. I’m not sure, but I know that you have seemed much older and more independent these past few months. You’re talking in much longer sentences – it’s wonderful to be able to have real conversations with you!

Amidst all the changes, I hope you know that some things haven’t changed. My love for you hasn’t changed. My promise to be here whenever you need me hasn’t changed. The fact that I am so proud of you hasn’t changed. And your ability to make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before hasn’t changed either. Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life. Happy birthday!!!

Love from,

Your Daddy

~~~~~~~~

Today you are 8-years-old.

For most people, 8 is when the cute starts to wear off. Not you. You remain as cute and sweet a little girl as ever. Except when you are cute and ornery. Even then, we’ll keep you.

This has been a big year for you. A lot of change and a lot of growing up have made for a bumpy ride at times, but we’re getting used to the drama. Our life is never boring, and usually, we have you to thank for that.

You are a born comic. There is not much you won’t do for a laugh. You’ll yell “Blow me down, guys!” until we’ve stopped what we are doing to puff in your direction, at which point you flail your arms, make worried “aaah, aaah, aaah” noises before collapsing in a heap on the ground. Your gales of laughter afterwards are contagious. Each night before dinner you lead us in the song “Open/Shut them” (presumably to ensure that our hands are properly folded for prayer time), then thank God for the food and for the cats who are partying. You’ve decided that your horse at therapeutic riding is named “Toot”; which is the word for ‘fart’ in our house and consequently, super-funny (he’s actually named “Dot,” but you will not be convinced otherwise).

You’ve always had a lot to say. From the beginning you taught me that everybody has stories to tell, whether they can express it or not. But this is the year we’ve begun to understand so much more of your stories. It is such a gift to hear your thoughts and ideas and strange pretends. You love to jump on the trampoline, then when “BubbleMan” comes, we are all required to lay down. Okay, so I still don’t understand a lot of what goes on in your world.

You are a true believer. When you are pretending, you do it with your whole heart and assume that it is just as real to the rest of us. Whether you are barking as a dog and eating your snack off the floor, or wearing 6 fluffy skirts, a neck tie, large floppy hat and mismatched shoes all afternoon (the costume of choice for a discerning “pwetty pwin-cess” we’re told), or even answering to a nickname (sweetheart, honey, silly goose…) – you will very seriously demand my attention, throw your hands out and trill “It’s me! B!”

The biggest change this year has brought is your sudden acquisition of a baby brother. Since he is not actually a baby, but the ripe old age of 2, you have actually acquired a partner in crime. Most of the time he is your little shadow, dogging your every step, getting into your stuff, and trying to hug you with his entire body. You have been mostly patient, if not a bit alarmed by his desire to wrestle. He’s a pretty good sport too, because you’re sister-ing style is somewhat tyrannical.

We call you the “Dastardly Duo,” and you have brought mischief to an unheard of level in our home. Just last week I noticed the bathroom door was closed with both of you in it (never a good sign). Worried that you had once again blockaded yourselves in the room (took 1/2 an hour to extricate you last time), I rushed in. Just in time. To see the sink overflowing onto the ground while you happily splashed one another. As I bundled up the sopping towels, having turned my back for no more than 2 minutes, I heard a piercing shriek. You had both climbed into the tub, fully clothed and turned the cold shower on. I was just relieved that nothing found its way into the toilet that day.

I’ve probably written more in my blog about your funny little quirks and extreme stubbornness, ahem… determination, than just about any subject. It can be a challenge, but you are certainly worth every long day, tearful break and prolonged battle of the wills. Because at the end of the day, you are a kind, gentle, funny, strong person. And the world is a better place because you are in it. And I am a better person because you are my girl.

I love you!

Happy Birthday 8-year-old!

Mom


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