Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Coincidence always begs for meaning. The Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines were swayed by the importance of this birthday to write about these men and their stories. Lincoln and Darwin are fascinating figures whose legacies still impact our society, science, politics, crazy conspiracy theories. I like that both figures are in vogue. It seemed strange when I was younger, to realize that history had fads. How can it? But it does.
Five years ago, I was not hoping to go into labor on the 12th. As I have had no control over when any of my pregnancies ended, hoping would not have moved Henry’s birthday. I went into labor on Friday, February 13th. And sometime in the hazy stretch between midnight and 3 am on Feb 14th, it was decided that I would be having a c-section when the regular day began. (Why that mattered on a Saturday, I don’t know.)
I was mildly disappointed when I realized that the baby who would be Henry would be born on Valentine’s Day. I questioned why we tried labor. In an objective way, I know they wouldn’t have done the c-section the moment we walked in 10pm, so I would have had to labor for >24 hours to avoid the 14th. The 14th was destiny. At the time, I was crushed to not bestow a Friday the 13th birthday. And now, I can only think Feb 12th would have been even cooler than that.
Henry is turning 5. If Bella hadn’t been born, I could make perfectly understandable laments about my baby growing up. My baby! Five years old! Fives year olds are not babies. I registered him for kindergarten for next fall. I signed him up for T-Ball for spring.
Here he is playing ball in the snow with Grandpa.
The Valentine’s Day birthday issue – preschool has, of course, a Valentine’s Day party; this year celebrated on Friday the 13th. Of course, the 13th, is the school day closest to his birthday. And so we brought in our birthday treat on the 11th. And Henry got to wear the hat. And what an awesome hat it was. I am trying to not sigh and seem frustrated when I mention Henry’s birthday is on the 14th. I can imagine a future of him giving presents on his birthday, of having combined gifts, of having school parties preempted, of red heart wrapping paper, of sadness at being alone on his birthday and the most supposedly romantic commercial holiday. I am trying to think of it as an opportunity, that his charm will fill that day. Maybe only I’ll be pushed out of the celebration early…maybe we can have the 12th. Every year I vow this will be the last year it bugs me. Maybe this year that will be true. I do think when I am over it, we’ll have a rocking Valentine’s Day party.
Henry has grown up so much this year. I got pregnant shortly before his 4th birthday. In the first and second trimester…oh my, the whole pregnancy haze and tiredness and inability to bend over, Henry learned to dress and undress himself. Thank goodness for velcro shoes.
In summer, Henry went to day camp. He liked it well enough. I got to experience having other moms say, oh you’re Henry’s mom. My son talks so much about Henry. And Henry may have started talking at 2.5, but he is still the silent type. He doesn’t talk about what he did, who he played with, the good or the bad. So I would smile and nod.
We had some hiccups when school started. Bella was born the day after preschool started. We had not adjusted to the new teacher, new room, new kids. It was hard. But Grandpa was a steady, quiet bringer to and fetcher from preschool. When I filled out my goals for preschool, I wanted Henry to be able to write his name and all his letters and his numbers. And probably more things. In later fall, letters and numbers suddenly were interesting. At first, Henry found his first name on a card each morning. Now he finds his last name. (Which is really tricky when you’re first one inside and there are 15 names). And he writes his first name. The rital, while educational, makes me think of a bizarre little Flintstones punch clock.
Henry is so funny. I want to write down everything he tells me. But I forget. He thinks about being funny – sometimes he is sorting out the world and its nonsensical words and systems. But often, he is playing with words. He is laughing so hard, he can barely tell me that cars can’t fly or teenagers climb trees. He is wild and bouncy and loud. And sometimes he is so shy he can’t speak louder than a mouse’s whisper. The local grocery store gives good little boys and girls a token for the vending machine. Henry always picks the tiny ninja toy. If it were possible to turn our house upside down, we would find 100 of those little guys. I think they are his favorite toy. (And will be my enemy when Bella is crawling and putting little tiny ninjas in her mouth.)
After a rough start during which Henry suggested Arabella might leave, be eaten by cats or be given to giants, I think he has come around to his baby (he decided he was Uncle Henry today, wrong, but an improvement over Little Henry from summer). Her eyes light up when he dances for her. He wants to stroke her head. And have the ninjas dance on her head. He holds her hand – and she better learn to run soon, because he’s ready, willing and able. He doesn’t seem to mind being squished between his sisters. He is so much happier when Miranda is home, unless she takes the toy that he is ignoring. He lets her mind him and babysit him and watch him.
Henry makes me laugh, even if I am afraid he’ll never learn to swim. He likes books and Wii and cars and action figures. He can play Mario Brothers and hit a ball. I am so proud of you, Henry. You’re kind, you’re fair, you share well, you likes people, you hold my hand when we cross the street. You don’t use your words all the time (we’ll remember this year for some spectacular crying and hitting…not at the same time). I hope you know we’ll always listen.