He was always thoughtful and curious. Two qualities I observed early on that were echoed throughout his childhood in the questions he asked, the friends he made, the conversations we had. I remember swimming with him in the ocean, off the coast of Belize, chatting away as if I were talking to a friend, he was all of 9. Six years later we spend hours in the car talking about relationships, the creative process, gratitude, challenges (both his and mine), global politics, race issues and what inspires us. He doesn’t like conflict, doesn’t like to be scolded or reprimanded and therefore will use his humor and charm to calm an upset friend or an angry parent. In the past three years he’s grown tremendously in size, strength and ability. I look at this boy that is taller than me and bigger than me and I see the young man he is becoming. But at times I’ll catch an expression, a fleeting glimpse, and suddenly I see my 9 year old staring back at me and am reminded no matter how tall he grows he will never outsize that thoughtful, gentle heart.
My baby is ten. My last, my youngest has achieved a new milestone of double digits. He is constantly testing, pulling, stretching against the binds I put on him. Seemingly aimless, boundless energy with no purpose he is very intentional and knows that his desired outcome is always achieved, to have my attention.
Today is day 72 of quarantine, today is also Penny’s 11th birthday. In an average year this date could have fallen on a school day for her and a work day for me, a chaotic day of commitments squeezing in celebrations where we can. But instead it’s day 72 of quarantine, of social-distancing, of distance learning, of work from home. Her morning started with our usual birthday breakfast tradition but instead of rushing out the door she was surprised with a “Happy 11th Birthday Penny!!” chalk art message thoughtfully and beautifully decorating our front side walk, with homemade doughnuts dropped off with homemade cards and a lot of love, with texts, messages and videos as they streamed in from friends near and far, and a socially-distanced ice cream break which turned into a water gun fight (OK, the six feet distance may not have been enforced the whole time). So on her 11th birthday, the 72nd day of quarantine, of social-distancing and isolation, she felt streamers full of love, coming from every which way, tumbling down on her.
This was the moment I held you for the first time. After hours of labor, some small panics and too many doctors you were measured, cleaned and swaddled and placed into my arms. You were crying so I sang “Dream A Little Dream of Me”, a song I had been singing to you in utero. You instantly calmed down and tried to open your eyes to see me. This was the moment.