I just tucked your nine-year-old self into bed. As I turned off your overhead light and went to switch on your radio (you listen to game broadcasts, or sports talk radio at night) you asked me to wait a minute. Then you said, "Will you please sing Happy Birthday to me one last time?"
Of course I obliged. And I sang it slowly - drawing out that tender moment. I know you like the way I sing. I also know you're likely to outgrow that opinion soon. So, for now, I will sing to you anytime you want.
Despite the fact that your birthday fell on a Thursday, you managed to have a pretty great day. "Best birthday ever!" you said, more than once. Your day began with a giant Rice Krispie treat for breakfast. It was cut to resemble a slice of cake. I put a candle in it and we sang to you around the kitchen table at 6:45 this morning. Not a bad way to begin your day.
As you and Harper get older, I find it a little more difficult to write these birthday notes. I still want to celebrate the person you are, but I also find myself a little sad about how quickly it's all happening. At dinner tonight Daddy kept showing me old photos of you on his phone - I had to make him stop before I drowned my food in a puddle of tears.
Don't go so fast.
There are two things I've noticed recently that I've sort of saved up to comment on, on this birthday. You are not perfectly behaved, far from it, but you have such a gentle spirit and such a kind heart. As you get older it only become easier for me to see this side of you. I offer you a couple of examples:
- Our dog, Rebound, is getting very old. He'll be 14 in April. Some days you decide to leave your precious "blankie", the one Auntie M made for you when you were born, on the living room floor - just so Rebound can rest on it when we're all gone during the day. And he does! More than once we've come home and he's been happily curled up, sleeping on your offering.
- Every morning we walk down the sidewalk to your bus stop. This is the first year you've ridden the bus, so everything about that has been a new experience. There is a kindergartner, who lives on the next street over, who is also at your bus stop. On the first day she rode the bus, you offered to sit with her (such a gentleman!) and then took it like a champ when she turned you down. To be fair, she's half your size, so that offer may have been a little intimidating. Recently I realized that no matter where we are standing, no matter what the weather is like, you always, ALWAYS wait for the little girl to get on the bus first. Sometimes you are closer to where it stops, sometimes she needs an extra moment to say goodbye to her mom, but you never jump ahead. I know that I never told you that you should let her get on the bus first, maybe Daddy did, at the beginning of the year? I just know that it warms my heart a little each morning to see that you wait for her.
You have an instinct to look out for others, Michael, and it is one of my favorite things about you.
Nine is a great age and I'm looking forward to all that this year has in store for you. I love you Michael. Happy birthday.