Nine years ago today my second child was born. It was a stormy night as I walked the corridors of the hospital, in the early stages of what was to be a quick labour, with the doors flinging open from the force of the wind outside. Then all went calm as labour kicked in and a short while later I was holding my son in my arms.
And still he brings calm into our lives when the wild winds blow.
He was due a week earlier, but, as he now likes to tell people, he got a bit too comfortable and stayed in a while longer.
Early to move, early to talk, he seemed keen to catch up to his sister. He learned how to walk at an early age, but realising he could move more quickly from a crawl, he preferred to move on all fours. Until he mastered the art of running that is, and then he didn’t stop.
We bought him his first proper shoes on his first birthday. He must have liked them for he ran the entire length of the town with both his parents struggling to keep up. This small little blonde head bobbing up and down, parting the sea of people on the street, each one turning with bewilderment and then amusement at the happy little runner.
To his big sister he quickly became devoted companion and defender. At the tender age of two I remember he stormed across a playground to confront an eleven year old boy he thought (incorrectly) had spoken to her out of turn. He followed her blindly and was the willing side kick to some of her hair brained adventures, that may or may not have included a spot of creative face painting with pink emulsion paint and a black indelible marker. Not only did the poor boy sit quietly for the “body art” he then sat quietly while his irate mother plopped him in a bath and scrubbed his little face until it was more pink that the paint she was removing.
From an early age he had a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong. Before he was even two we would sometimes find him sitting on the “time out stool”, quietly waiting. When we asked why he was there he would openly admit to some small crime he had committed, and acting as self appointed judge and jury, he would dish out his own punishment.
When he was three the family unit as he knew it changed quite dramatically. He had always asked for a baby and finally he got one. When the moment arrived for him to meet his baby brother I had it all prepared. No longer a rookie, I knew just what to do; I had baby placed in the crib and moved a little away from mammy so that when he and his sister came into the room I was completely available for a cuddle. Things never go as expected though… the door was opened and a very assertive little boy walked in, scanning the room in earnest. When I opened my arms and beckoned he stood firm with the simple reply of “where is the baby?”. In shock I responded with a waving gesture towards the crib. He walked over, looked in, and then wrapped his little arms around the swaddled bundle ready to lift him, until we intervened. It was instant love and he wanted to take his little brother home.
Five years later and the love and the bond are as strong as ever. His brother cannot shed a single tear before he is by his side, comforting, protecting, defending. He has never once complained about the broken lego or the shared bedroom.
He always amazed me with the facts he comes out with, at this stage I have stopped looking them up to see if they are right, as they always are. He seems to remember every scene of every film he ever saw, and can usually quote a lot of it back, word for word. He is a lover of lego but is always in a hurry to build whatever is in the box, so he can take it apart and create his own version.
He has a wonderful sense of humour and an impeccable comic timing. He has a great memory for jokes. It is no surprise that his favourite animal is a monkey as he obviously feels a kindred spirit for their mischievous ways.
He is part calm, part exuberance, a wise old soul and a free young spirit. He is full of charm in his own quiet way. Nine years and sometimes it is he who creates the storm, but one quick flash of that smile and all is calm again.
Happy birthday my little man!