Today is my seventh birthday. I would like to tell my mom what the past seven years have looked like through my eyes. I want her to know what I have learned over these past seven years. I am going to do this in my mind, because she always knows what I am thinking.
The minute I was born I saw a drastic differences in my world compared to the one I was familiar with. Before, when I was in her tummy, I felt warm and cozy. I heard many sounds, but they were muffled. I felt a sense of floating. After I was out on my own I felt the effects of gravity, my lungs filled with air, and I had my first experience with breathing on my own. The light in the room was so bright that I wanted to cover my eyes, but couldn’t. I made a sound that I had not needed before. I no longer heard or felt the comfort of mom’s heartbeat that was present from my first memory. Sounds were pronounced, and I had my first experience with smell. Everything looked and felt BIG. Once I was placed on my moms tummy I felt safe and secure. I could again hear and feel her heart beating, and could smell her special scent that would calm me in my first few days as a miniature human being. The next few months became a blur, because I slept most of the time, unless I needed to eat. I found if I was hungry or uncomfortable all I had to do was make my special sound and someone was there to do what ever I needed to make me happy, and it was usually mom.
I am sure glad I got all of that sleep, because I encountered a lot of changes in that first year or so and needed to be well rested to get through all of them. I learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, and walk. I remember I felt the most rewards from crawling, because I could go many places. Standing was the scariest, because balance was hard, and falling down dozens of times a day was not a lot of fun, but I never gave up. I had a special cheerleader along the way. I realize now that having a brother two years older than me was an asset. He could probably remember having the same struggles and probably gave me some pointers along the way. He had more time, than mom and dad, to spend with me. He was probably impatient for me to become his play mate and buddy. Mom told him I was coming when I was in her tummy and he was excited. I think he might have been disappointed when I came out so small.
When I got a little older eating on my own was a challenge. I desperately wanted to get those bits of banana and Cheerios in my mouth, that mom put on a tray attached to a special chair, made just for me. My arms flew all over the place. I made a terrible mess, but mom just smiled, knowing I would finally gain the coordination to eventually hit my mouth. I remember watching the family eat and wondered if I would ever master such a task. My support system made sure I never went hungry. I also remember the day I surprised my parents with a short sentence. I was sitting in my car seat as we pulled up to a drive through, fast-food, eatery. I immediately said “burger and fries please”. “Please” was used a lot in our house, as I recall. Mom and Dad were so surprised, because I knew very few words, and seldom put them together.
As I got older potty training became an issue for mom, but not me. I was perfectly happy with the arrangement of doing my business and letting her clean me up. But on one eventful day mom and I were on a walk and passed a building that housed a preschool. I peered in the window and said that I wanted to join in the fun the kids were having. Mom said, “Well, all of the kids in the class were potty trained, so until I was I would not be allowed to go there.” As soon as we got home I scampered to the bathroom and did my business. I was enrolled in that Preschool the following week.
I remember mom and dad teaching me to play board games and even chess. One day, when I was just three years old, grandma came to spend the day with me. We played chess and I beat her. When I heard dad come home I yelled, “I beat grandma at chess”. I remember thinking I might have hurt her feelings, so I added, “But she made a bone head move”. I could never figure out why everyone started laughing. I remember some of my favorite toys. The very best one appeared when we got a new washing machine. My brother and I showed so much interest in the big cardboard box it came in that mom let us play in it in the family room. We spent hours pretending it was a fort or cabin. We even took some naps in it until it was literally falling apart. I think dad tried to extend its life with packaging tape, but it finally died of natural causes.
I remember you talking to me, reading me books, and explaining things to me. You tried to answer all of my questions, which were many, as I had a curiosity beyond belief. I wanted to know how everything around me worked. I have memories of not understanding what you were saying, but just loved you spending time with me. At some point I started understanding the meaning of your words. That was frustrating, because I didn’t, have the language skills to respond. It was apparent to me that understanding words came long before language was developed. I soon started to learn to say words and let you know that I understood what you were saying. I loved your reading the same books over an over until I could catch you when you tried to skip a page. When I finally got the hang of speech I think I talked non-stop, which I am sure was a little tiresome for you. I remember when you and dad realized I was paying attention even if you were not talking to me. The family was on a motor trip. My dad stopped at a stop sign and another driver almost hit us. The word “Idiot” flew out of my mouth. My parents looked at each other with the knowledge that I had been listening closely and was repeating something I had heard while being a passenger. Future trips seemed more calm after that.
One scary lesson I lived through was the first time you left me somewhere I was not familiar with. You told me the circumstances of why I was going to have to be there and told me you would be back, but I was not so sure. What if you were giving me away? Your words were true and you returned to take me home. I think I experienced what trust was that day.Thanks mom and dad for giving me a strong foundation for growing up to be a good person. You taught me building blocks that included learning to trust. You let me struggle with projects that helped me learn how to figure things out. You also didn’t rescue me when I was struggling with my two left feet and lack of coordination. I learned that failing can be the first step towards succeeding. You always encouraged me to keep trying when I struggled, and never made me feel bad when I goofed up, and that showing my feelings was ok. You gave me opportunities to imagine and experiment with crazy ideas that flew in and out of my brain at a rapid pace. You and Dad played with me and made me appreciate nature in so many fun ways.You even taught me how to pull weeds in our flower and vegetable garden. I was very proud when I got to tell my teacher at school that our family ate carrots that I helped plant and grow. I think you both helped me establish a healthy lens for me to see the world and be succesful. I love you and my family so much. And I hope my birthday cake is chocolate, and that I can have as much ice cream as I want today because it is my seventh birthday and I am set for life.