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To My Son On His Tenth Birthday (Chapter Two)

My second-born, my baby, you are ten today. How did that happen? You’ve always wanted to be older, and now you are. And I am so proud of you.

There are three years between you and your brother. Because parenting is hard, and it took that long to feel like I knew what I was doing, and like I was ready to do it all again. But surprise—you were your own person from the start, and a lot of what I thought I knew from raising your brother didn’t apply. So I was learning all over again.

And you’ve kept us on our toes: you learned to climb stairs and open doors before you could walk. Enter the baby gates and bolt locks we didn’t think we needed. You’ve been on the move ever since.

You do have some things in common with your big brother. You also thrive best when learning in your own time. When you do decide to do something, though, you are all in.

You are a voracious reader, and will read just about anything and everything I oh so casually leave on the coffee table. You can’t get enough of graphic novels, and have discerning taste in picture books, often telling me which ones deserve my library “staff picks” stickers.

You don’t much like school, never have, but you are scary smart, and love learning and trying new things. You are currently researching poisonous snakes, just because. You love to help in the kitchen, and will probably make your own birthday cake. And it will be amazing.

You have a confidence I envy, and I hope you never lose. You get over anger and upsets quickly, and never hold a grudge. You have always been a snuggler, and will still randomly hug me in public; I hope you always will. I love your uncontained joy for certain things, like going out for sushi, or your pet snake (your birthday present).

You can also be a bit obsessive with things you love. TV shows, video games, drums, breakfast—you go through periods of choosing that thing and only that thing. Your current obsession is playing outside with your neighbourhood friends. Bagels with cream cheese and lox. And trying to convince us to get a dog.

You are a trooper. We’ve “joked” you’ve seen just about every specialist there is at one point or another. And yet, you are far from a sickly kid—you are an active boy with a great attitude. You’ve gone through medical tests, eye patching, chronic illness, and surgery without complaint. In fact at the worst point in your recovery from having your tonsils and adenoids removed, you commented that you “felt sorry for younger kids having this done”. You were six.

Though you try to play it cool, you still adore your big brother. You are both growing up, and have your own friends and interests. You don’t play together as much these days, and can get on one another’s nerves (sometimes on purpose). But overall, the bond is still there, and I look forward to watching it grow as you do.

Happy birthday my sweet boy!

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Twenty Questions (2015 Version)

Inspired by my late friend, Tracy Chappell, I ask the boys the same twenty questions each year around their birthdays. It’s a fun tradition (they now ask, “when do we answer those questions?” and insist I include pauses and “ums”!) and I love comparing how their responses change (or don’t!) year over year. So in honour of BB#1’s eleventh birthday (I can’t believe it’s been a year since I wrote him this! or that his baby brother is going on eight!), I’m finally posting (it’s been a busy year, more about that later!)

Look back at:

2012

2013

2014

1.What is your favourite color?

BB#1: Green. I think.

BB#2: Probably, I don’t know, purple.

2. What is your favourite toy?

BB#1: Lego?

BB#2: Lego and my Bionicle six arms awesome guy.

3. What is your favourite fruit?

BB#1: Peaches I guess?

BB#2: Peaches and strawberries.

4. What is your favourite TV show?

BB#1: Wakfu. That’s pretty much the only TV show that I watch. [This is a French show he watched on Netflix this summer. We don’t have cable.]

BB#2: (long pause) I don’t know. [See above]

5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch?

BB#1: I have no idea. Crepes I guess.

BB#2: Pizza.

6. What is your favourite outfit?

BB#1: My black pants that are like jeans and a t-shirt, and maybe a hoodie with a zipper.

BB#2: My all-black outfit.

7. What is your favourite game?

BB#1: I going to say a board game because that’s easier. I think Apples to Apples.

BB#2: Spore. [A computer video game]

8. What is your favourite snack?

BB#1: Crackers and cheese.

BB#2: Dried mangoes.

9. What is your favourite animal?

BB#1: Crested gecko. That one’s easy.

BB#2: A snake. [He wants a milk snake as a pet…]

10. What is your favourite song?

BB#1: I can’t decide between “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin or “One” by Metallica.

BB#2: “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

11. What is your favourite book?

BB#1: The Kill Order from the Maze Runner series.

BB#2: Harry Potter. [We’re currently reading Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix together.]

12. Who is your best friend?

BB#1: I don’t have a best friend, I have only a bunch of friends.

BB#2: I have two, Jason and Kian.

13. What is your favourite sport?

BB#1: Snowboarding.

BB#2: Basketball, soccer and football.

 14. What is your favourite thing to do outside?

BB#1: Snowboard.

BB#2: Swimming and biking.

15. What is your favourite drink?

BB#1: Pina colada.

BB#2: Lime smoothies, like the ones at Cuba. [Where we spent March Break, and also drank pina coladas. Virgin, naturally!]

16. What is your favourite holiday?

BB#1: Christmas? No, Halloween, Halloween is my favourite holiday.

BB#2: My birthday. [Last I checked, still not a national holiday…]

 17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

BB#1: My big dog.

BB#2: My one of my tiny dogs and my biggest dog.

Note: all of these dogs are of the stuffed variety.

 18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?

BB#1: A bagel with cheese. Unless it’s a super egg sandwich, with ribs on it and bacon and cheese. Because I love that.

BB#2: Waffles!

 19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

BB#1: (shrugs) Steak I guess. I can’t decide. We kind of eat everything that’s special treat dinner every few weeks. So steak or salmon. [We’re having steak.]

BB#2: Pizza, ribs, or filet mignon.

 20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

BB#1: A rock star? Or a professional snowboarder.

BB#2: A singer.

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Twenty Questions (2014 version)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Okay maybe not quite. It’s the time between the boys’ birthdays when I ask them the same twenty questions and compare their answers with the previous year (and the year before that.)

1.What is your favourite color?

BB#1: Green.

BB#2: Green.

2. What is your favourite toy?

BB#1: Lego.

BB#2: My bike.

3. What is your favourite fruit?

BB#1: Nectarine.

BB#2: I love fruit, so just say all of them.

4. What is your favourite TV show?

BB#1: Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey.

BB#2: Batman videos after you play a bunch of games. [Lego Batman game on the Wii]

5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch?

BB#1: Quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich.

BB#2: Chicken wraps.

6. What is your favourite outfit?

BB#1: Black jeans, purple sweater and my orange Puma shirt. [This is in fact the same purple hoodie he got for his eighth birthday–it wasn’t cheap but he has definitely gotten a lot of wear out of it!]

BB#2: I have no idea.

7. What is your favourite game?

BB#1: Eternity Warriors .

BB#2: Manhunt.

8. What is your favourite snack?

BB#1: Extreme Cheddar Fish Crackers (“you aren’t doing the ums!”)

BB#2: Fruit.

9. What is your favourite animal?

BB#1: Crested gecko.

BB#2: I don’t have one, they’re all so awesome.

10. What is your favourite song?

BB#1: “Free Byrd” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

BB#2: I don’t know what it’s called but it’s like “na-na-na-na”. (note: we eventually determined it is: “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX).

11. What is your favourite book?

BB#1: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

BB#2: I don’t really have one.

12. Who is your best friend?

BB#1: Nicolas.

BB#2: Cole.

13. What is your favourite sport?

BB#1: Football (“American”).

BB#2: Riding my bike.

 14. What is your favourite thing to do outside?

BB#1: Talk and play with my friends.

BB#2: Ride my bike.

15. What is your favourite drink?

BB#1: Cherry soda. [note: not sure he’s ever had this…]

BB#2: I don’t have one.

16. What is your favourite holiday?

BB#1: Bro Day [note: this holiday is currently exclusive to him and his “bros”].

BB#2: Halloween.

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

BB#1: Books.

BB#2: A book. I would want to take my bike.

18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?

BB#1: Egg sandwich, I think we all know that.

BB#2: Pancakes or crepes.

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

BB#1: Ribs. [note: we had ribs]

BB#2: Shish kebabs.

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

BB#1: My plan is to be a snowboarder and to just get a lot of money and then with all that money I want to start up a company that sells stuff that I want to invent.

BB#2: A singer, a racer and an inventor. [note: he’s mentioned singer now a couple times, aside from the fact he really doesn’t sing very often…]

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To My Son on His Tenth Birthday

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks now. What to say to you, my first-born, as you turn ten? That I can’t believe it? That time goes so fast? That it seems like yesterday you were born? These clichés are all true.

Ten years. I won’t say I don’t remember my life without you; I do. But it seems like a different era, and I know I’m not the same person I was before you. You made me a mother. There’s a lot I could say (and have. See: this blog) about being a mother—about those early days and weeks and years where I tried to figure it all out. After all, this is my birth-day too.

But I’d rather focus on the person you are today. At ten, you are so many things. Wise, kind, thoughtful. I wouldn’t change you for the world, and yet, I sometimes worry how this world will change you. You’ve received more than one “Integrity” certificate from school, and though I’ve never set much store by those awards, I admit: your teachers called it.

You are so much like me, and not just because of your red hair and green eyes. You don’t really care for change, or surprises, or being teased “good-naturedly”. And yet unlike me, you aren’t afraid to try new things. You want to do it all—and have already done so much: snowboarding, skiing, swimming, water skiing, tubing, skating, archery, mountain biking, skateboarding, squash, cartooning…And you aren’t afraid to say no, to be your own person. So your friends don’t care for your long hair, or the coloured streaks you’ve sometimes worn? You like them. Kids aren’t playing fairly at the park? You’d rather not play with them. I can’t help but hope this positions you well for the years ahead, when you’ll be faced with following the crowd or staying true to yourself.

You are an amazing big brother, and have been since day one. Even when your brother was first born, after you’d gotten us to yourself for three whole years, I never saw any jealousy. Nothing but you wanting to help him–even when he doesn’t make it easy. I know there will continue to be times you don’t get along, or even like each other much. But I hope the brotherly bond between you will never break.

You are an avid and voracious reader. Since we don’t track those things, I have no idea how many books you read this summer. You usually have two or three on the go. I love that we can share our love for the written word, and even recommend books to one another. You have always had a thirst for knowledge—starting back when the dinosaur encyclopedia was a favourite bedtime story. You wonder and question constantly. I hope you always will.

You are still a child—and I mean that in the very best way. You play, and I hope you will for a long time to come. And yet, you are logical and responsible and reliable in a way that makes it hard to forget you are only ten. You’ll often state that you can’t wait to be older, but I don’t wish this time away. I already know how fast the next ten years will fly by.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy.

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