Today is Connor and Maddie’s Birthday.
When I was pregnant, I had a vision. I’d create a photo book each year, through age 10, that documented what I observed and loved about my son and daughter. (I see now that I was doing writing practice before I officially took up writing practice!)
When they turned 18 and headed to college, or perhaps as a wedding gift, I’d give them a beautiful box filled with the 10 photo journals.
I ran out of steam by age 9. But from birth to age 8, I captured some real beauties. Here are sample observations from age 5.
Things I love about Maddie…
The way you colored a blue circle on your knee to fill the hole in your blue tights.
The way you begin a conversation with, “Can I tell you something?” or “You know what?”
The way you say, “I LOVE…LOVE…LOVE (anything).
The way you put your hand on Connor’s shoulder at the restaurant and said, “Conna, sorry you lost your tooth.” (Connor’s tooth came out and he dropped it on the floor and couldn’t find it).
The way you wrote me a note on your kidsmail thanking me for taking such good care of you when you got a huge bump on your head. You were brushing your teeth and Connor pushed you into the door. Your bump was a big, hard “egg” and you were inconsolable for about 40 minutes and many times you sobbed, “I’m scaaared. I’m SCAAAAARED!” You asked if that was bone sticking out and you were afraid to touch the bump. After the ice and aspirin and book and lullaby and talking about it, you finally relaxed and first you thanked me for being so nice to you and then you wrote in your invented spelling, “thank you mom for taking such good care of me.”
Things I love about Connor…
The way you open and close your mouth in time to the scissors opening and closing as you cut.
The way you read from your list of things to bring to school when you, Pierce, and Christopher planned to sneak out of the house and walk to school in the middle of the night to play: 1. water 2. Gatorade 3. rope for the kidnappers 5. Snacks
The way you said to Maddie at the restaurant where you lost your second tooth, “I have to ask you something. Why do my teeth keep falling out and yours aren’t?”
The way you and dad were talking about how lightening can be dangerous, and dad explained that lightening can’t go through rubber, and you said, “Are we made of rubber?” Dad laughed and said no, and you said, “What are we made of, plastic?”
The way you defended Maddie at the playground when the older boys were throwing water balloons. You ran up to one and said, “You better not throw that at my sister.” When dad asked you what the kid did, you said, “He smiled,” completely unaware. Then, a 13-year old had your new green ball and you sprinted after him and tried to grab it out of his hands. The kid wouldn’t give it to you at first and finally threw it on the ground and walked away. It was incredible the way you stood up to him! You came to me after and said, “Mom, I’ve been spending all my time wrestling these guys, I haven’t even had time to play yet!” Then you ran off and played, half looking for more opportunities to rumble.
Typing these age-5 memories got me thinking about the similar qualities I see in Connor and Maddie today.
Connor’s boldness at age 5 carries into his soccer life. He just signed a contract with Real SoCal Soccer Academy where he’s celebrated for his courage as a defender and fearless tackler.
Maddie’s early insights and expressions of empathy continue to stun and inspire me. She’s trained as a Youth-Line counselor, helping teens navigate their pain and fear.
Spending Thanksgiving week with both of them, a rarity these days, I witnessed with amusement their conflicts and their closeness, as I did when they were little.
In this moment, I’m filled with nostalgia, wonder, and DISBELIEF that my babies are 17.
Happy birthday, Baby A and Baby B!
Want to write?
Take a pen & prompt journey:
Things I love about ______...
2). Keep your pen moving as you write the thoughts, feelings, and images that arise. Don’t stop to think or edit. Don’t try to stay on “topic.” Follow where the prompt takes you.
3). Accept ALL that you write -- the pretty + ugly; absurd + boring. Discover what wants to be felt, known, expressed, released...