Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Declan!

Oh, you adorable boy. You seem so grown up sometimes and then other times, still so little. You were such a gigantic thing when you were born and for those first couple of years, that I would always forget how young you actually were. I tended to treat you like a little man, not the little boy you were. One of your very first visitors in the hospital looked at you and said, “He looks like such a wise soul.” And she was right.

I can’t believe it was eight years ago today. In many ways, it seems like yesterday. I remember every single detail of your arrival and what it was like to hold you for the first time. You were a sturdy little bugger from the start. And very, very interested in what went on around you. It was clear from the beginning that you liked to look around and observe before you decided how you felt about any given situation. You’re still that way now—you love to try new things, after you check it out and assess the situation.

As our first born, you were, are and probably always will be, our little guinea pig. Your sweet, sweet nature can melt my heart. I remember when you were nearly three, we went to a party at a neighbor’s house. You had never seen a toy gun before. You picked it up and took it to the woman who lived there and said, “How does this work?” And then you called it a shooter. I remember walking behind you on your first day of preschool. You seemed so grown up, but now when I look at those pictures, you were so tiny—only three—in your Larry Boy t-shirt, excited to be going to school, but a little apprehensive to, about being a “big boy.”

Here you go! On your way into your first day of preschool--Sept. '03.

Neighbor and best pal, Ellie. One day on the way home you had a spat in the car. I heard Ellie say, "Well, then I'm not going to marry you!" And you said, "I'm not going to marry you either!" A few minutes later you whispered, "I love you!" And she whispered it back and then all was right with the world.

You have always been so schedule oriented with any little change setting you into a tailspin. And willful! Oh my. I’m certain you don’t remember your transition to a “big boy bed,” but I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. You wouldn’t stay in your bed for love nor money and so, after weeks of this, we put a baby gate across the door to keep you from escaping. Well, a lot of the parenting books said you might scream and cry for awhile, but it wouldn’t last for long. Apparently they never met someone like Declan Rooney. Because it was hours, HOURS, Declan. Where did you get that set of lungs and iron will? You monkey.

That same iron will has continued to guide you, mostly for the good. There was that battle of wills over pooping on the potty—I won’t go into that here since it’s your birthday—but most of the time you used your powers for good, not evil. You were so determined to learn how to ice skate and play hockey as soon as you knew they were building an ice rink near our house. You were only three, but you said you wanted to learn to skate. And look at you now! Hockey, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking—I’m holding out for an NHL contract so you can support your parents when they’re old (which isn’t all that far off).

Other sweet, sweet memories are of you in kindergarten. Your teacher loved you because she would crack jokes and no one in the class would get them but you. I remember, and this will embarrass you, the first time you used the bathroom at school and you quietly went up and asked your teacher if she had any wipes you could use. “But she didn’t hear me,” you said. And so you went anyway and it all worked out.

Ready for your first day of kindergarten--August '05

Coming home after your first day of kindergarten. You loved riding the bus!

And then we moved. A huge, huge change for a little boy who thrives on the consistency of the same old, same old. It was hard for you that first year—spending part of your day learning in Spanish freaked you out a little bit. And just the other day you told me that all of those times you said you were sick and needed to come home that you were pretending. I used to do that to come home from school, too, and watch soap operas.

First Colorado Christmas--2006

After a few early bumps, you were over the hurdle and loved living in Colorado. It makes me a little sad to know that even after just a year and a half, you don’t remember much about Ohio. You even made a comment that you didn’t remember what your room looked like, which is hard for me. It’s the house where you were born, the house where Finn was born, the house where we had so much joy and also so much sadness, and you’ll only ever know it in pictures now. Then I think about all of the new, wonderful memories we’re making here and I feel better.

Heck, you wouldn't have been able to do this in Ohio!

I worry so much about how having a little brother with cancer may have affected you. You used to be so excited when SuperSibs packages would arrive for you. I think in the end you won’t remember too much about Finn being sick. It was confusing at first. I remember very early on after Finn’s diagnosis, I came home from the hospital after my 24 hour “shift.” I was so exhausted and sad and scared. We were in your room and suddenly I found myself crying. I took you in my arms and hugged you tight, but not before you saw my tears. You asked why my eyes were wet and I realized it was probably the first time you’d seen me cry. I felt like I’d taken away a little piece of your childhood. One of the hardest things, and one of the things I will never, ever forget, is your intuition when Finn was sick. Your very pointed question, “Is Finn going to die,” was like an arrow to our hearts. And I will never, ever forget not being able to say, “No,” like we wanted to do. But we had learned early on that you are not the type of person we can hedge with. You want the truth and you call us out when you think you’re not getting it.

MOST of the time, you are an awesome big brother. I love hearing you cheer on Finn when he’s trying to score a goal on you in the basement. I love it that you two like to sleep in the same room together on weekends. I love hearing you play together in your rooms when you wake up early (I love it even more when you play quietly and don’t wake me up at 6:15am on a Saturday). I love it that you have each other and will have each other to lean on for the rest of your lives. Also, you’ll need someone to complain to about our senility as Daddy and I get old. Brothers are good for that.

Now that's what I like to see!

And how many people would do THIS for their brother? You're amazing.

Oh yes, there are those times when you do things to get Finn’s goat and get him all riled up. Darn you. Sometimes I want to wring your little neck. You know how to push buttons—mine and Finn’s. You don’t seem to do it to Daddy. You two are like peas in a pod. You looked so much like Daddy when you were born that I wondered if I had been genetically involved.

You are so loved—beyond what I could ever describe to you. If you have children one day, you’ll understand. I love this age—I wish I could freeze you right now. You’re old enough to be trying some things on your own, but still young enough to want to snuggle each night and read together. I love that. Love it, love it, love it. And I love you.


Leeann said...


I'll have you know I just cried throughout your entire birthday post to Declan. It was so sweet it makes me want to hug your granola, deoderant-avoiding self!

I agree, Declan is just a marvelous kid. Who has pretty marvelous parents!


Mamasita said...

Awwww. That was so sweet! He will be able to look back on that letter and always know how much he is loved.

I have been meaning to start doing this for my kids, but haven't done it yet.

(BTW - I copied both you and Kristie and started a blogspot of my own.)

1dreamr said...

What a wonderful post -- Declan will cherish this in years to come... such a special gift.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Declan, from Minnesota!


Elizabeth said...

awwwwwwwwwwww. This brought tears to my eyes Nat!