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A Birthday Letter for The Mighty Quinn

Dear Quinn,

I’ve never written you a birthday letter before, and for that I am sorry. You can add it to the list of things I envisioned doing as your mother, but never accomplished due to this pesky old life of ours getting in the way. Instead of an ornately adorned, highly organized baby scrapbook complete with documented first and second year milestones, you have an envelope they gave me at the hospital full of the major newborn memorabilia – our hospital bracelets, some pictures, your newborn footprints – stashed somewhere at the top of my closet.

When I found out I was pregnant with you when your brother was 10 months old, I was shocked and excited. It took us so long to have Bryce that we didn’t know if we’d be having any more kids at all, and getting pregnant so soon wasn’t even on our radar screen – you were a big bonus. As the pregnancy progressed, I began to worry, like many mothers pregnant with second children, about how I would relate to another child. What would I do if both kids were crying at the same time? Would it betray a subconscious preference if I went to one over the other? Would I feel resentment toward you if you were a demanding, intense baby when I already had one intense toddler to care for? How would this affect my relationship with your brother? Was I even logistically capable of taking care of two kids under the age of two years BY MYSELF all day long?

When you were born, you laid all those fears to rest. I didn’t really have to address the concern of both kids crying at the same time, because the only time you cried was when your silent reflux woke you up from naps, and all I had to do was take you out of your crib and put you in a bouncy seat on the kitchen table while I worked on your brother’s next meal, cleaned something, filled out unemployment verifications, worked on photography stuff for your dad, or applied for jobs online. You were perfectly content to sit and watch and coo, and you flashed your simultaneously dazzling and patient smile at me every time I managed to remember that I had a baby and look in your direction.

I went back to work when you were eight months old, and it was the hardest time of my life. I had never planned to stay home with my kids because of our financial situation, but it really sucked the comfort and ease out of my days to leave your patient company after becoming accustomed to having you with me everywhere I went for eight months. For you, though, it was no big deal. There was no adjustment period at all. Who’s taking care of me today? Mom? Dad? The Cashier from Wal-Mart? It’s all good.

You didn’t really walk or talk until you were over 15 months old, and your pediatrician was concerned at your 18-month appointment. We had some people come to evaluate you, but by the time that happened, you decided to make fools out of all of us and pass their crazy tests with flying colors – actually exceed their age expectations in many areas. It was at that point that your dad and I realized you were a lot more complex than we’d given you credit for. I think you realized this at the same time, because this was also the time period that you discovered how well you could manipulate us with your magical powers. Tantrums, whining, cuteness, humor – you could wield all of them effortlessly, and it was so sudden! That was your best trick, really. Saving that all up to ambush us when we were least expecting it. Kudos to you, Quinn. You got us.

In the past year, you’ve also learned how to manipulate Bryce. And that, my son, is quite a feat. You keep him honest, and you shake up his structured view of the world, which is good for him, I think. I can’t tell you how many times you’ve caused your dad and I to risk tear duct infection by forcing ourselves to hold back tears of intense, inappropriate laughter when you have pulled Bryce’s own exploits on him. In the car coming home from dinner the other night, you had a toy that Bryce wanted, and he was really furious that you wouldn’t give it to him. He was pontificating angrily, shaking his head, trying desperately to get you in trouble. During his loud dissertation, he looked away from you momentarily, and when he did, you held out the toy he wanted, just within his reach. As Bryce turned his head back towards you, his speech stopped dead in its tracks and his expression changed to one of victory. He reached out to take the toy right as you pulled it back into your lap. Bryce was incensed! The sermon began anew, this time with more vigor and passion. You sat still, your face calm and mature (I can only assume the way you see MY face when I am so appropriately disciplining you, which I obviously do very, very often and well), and you said to him, in the even, disappointed tone that I would use if I were telling a friend I couldn’t go to lunch with her, “Too bad, Bryce. You had your chance. Sorry. Too bad, Bryce.” Quinn, that was riotously, hilariously funny. But you can never do it again, because we almost had a wreck; you can’t drive when laughing hysterically and simultaneously hiding it from your children.

You’ve added an element of surprise, color, and fun to our lives. Every time we think we know you, you pull another trick out of your hat. What hasn’t changed through all of the surprises is how full of contentment and wonder you are. I love your question mark talking and the way you pronounce sandwich “saynerch” (which developed from “weenerch”) and Froot Loops “flip lips” and french fries “bench fries” (why the FR sound on fries and not french?) and the letter W “duvayou”and how every single time you get out of the bathtub, you run naked down the hall to Bryce’s bed to hide under the covers simply because I ask you to wait until your pajamas are on to do so (annoying, yet somehow also cute). I love that when you’re concentrating while listening to a story, your feet move in small circles while your toes each individually wiggle, as if your feet are thinking, too. And secretly, I love that you’re not potty trained yet, because I think I’m in denial about the fact that you have to grow up eventually, and this is going to be one of the major steps to get you there. You’re not ready yet, and maybe I’m not either.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Q. I love you.

Love, Mom