You were born two and a half years ago today, on April 16, 2007, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. Before you were born, I was really concerned about the date of your birth. I was sure you were going to be early, and I didn’t totally object to the idea of you being born on tax day (April 15), because I figured nobody would really care about that, except to make a stupid joke at some office party some day. Mostly I just wanted to avoid your being born on April 20, because it was Hitler’s birthday, and I just couldn’t stomach it. I thought that if it came down to it, though, I could just stretch out labor a little longer — refuse to push or something — so that your date of birth would be officially April 21. Because even if I’m not really superstitious, the thing is, you ask somebody if they want their son to have the same birthday as Hitler, and they are going to say, “Well, I’d rather not.” Because it doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
But what happens, Mini, is when you have a kid, your life’s focus is shifted just a little bit from what it was right before the kid is born. And you start seeing the world with a new set of eyes, and even though you thought you were prepared for everything, you realize you weren’t, not really. But that it’s OK. This all kind of hits you at once, and so when they tell you, at some point, through the haze of an epidural (yes, I had an epidural, and yes, I do love you, and yes, I would do it again), there has been some kind of shooting at Virginia Tech that very same day, your child’s birthday, you will kind of be aware of it, but it won’t be the end of the world that you would have thought. There will be a vague sense somewhere in the back of your head that yeah, if you could have chosen, you’d prefer that the Virginia Tech shootings would have not ever happened at all, but later on, in the early hours of the morning, your sleep deprived brain will come up with some kind of poetic explanation for things, and how something beautiful was born out of that day, so that even if it had ugliness it also had beauty, and that beauty is you.
Today, at two and a half, you are the light of my life, and the spring in my step, and every day I will tell you this ten or fifteen times or so, and sometimes you listen, and other times you are too busy with other things to be bothered. But I know that you hear me, I know because I see it in the way that your eyes light up, in the way you reach for me each afternoon after your nap, and in the shrieks you make when you chase me around the house at bathtime. I see it in the way that you joke with me, already, in your own way, while laying back on the bed and complaining, “Maaah! I can’t see!” and then laughing hysterically, because of course you cannot see, when you are purposefully covering your face with pillows. These are the moments I am keeping close to my heart, when I can look at you and see the glimpses of the person you will become, and feel like if you could take all the good that is in me, just the good parts, and put them into a boy, then that would be you, Mini, and I’m the lucky one who gets to see how it all plays out.
In the mornings, I will ask you if you want to go to school, and many days you will say no. So instead I will ask you if you want to go see the trains, and you will say yes. And after we see the trains, I’ll ask you if you want to go looking for buses, and then you’ll say yes, and so we’ll go looking for buses, and then we’ll slowly make our way to school that way, picking out smaller goals in between home and school, until before you know it we are at school, and even if you’re a little wary, you put on your brave face until we get to your classroom. And then your little bottom lip will quiver, despite your best effort to be a big boy for Mommy, and sometimes you will say, “I want to go home,” and my heart will break into eight thousand pieces. But I have to be strong, too, so I will tell you that Mommy will be back in just a few hours, and it will take all of my strength to leave you there when you don’t want me to leave, because I know it is what forces you to grow, and I know that within ten minutes of me leaving you will be digging holes in the sandbox, and finding new friends with whom you can explore the world.
And tomorrow, we will get up and do it all again.
When I ask you, “Are you the best boy in the whole wide world?” you will almost always say, “Yes,” in all earnestness. Because insofar as you have heard, in your short life, this is the truth: that Mini is the best boy in the whole wide world. And it will always be the truth for me, my beautiful boy — even if, as you grow older, you will start to roll your eyes at me, or start to think that it is just something I say, or that I don’t even really know you, so how could I love you so much. It will hurt me to hear this, but I will keep saying it, until the day that you have your own kid, and you finally find out what I am talking about. And maybe on that day, you will give me a call, just to let me know that you get it.