Tyler is Ten. I realized this weekend that every single bit of baby is gone from him, even from his knuckles and knees. He isn’t round or dimpled anywhere. He is all lines and knobs now.

No more single digits in this house. No more little boys. Just double digits and aspiring young men. I’m not sad, just fiercely aware. It’s not time that flies, it’s the people who change. Even knuckles and knees.

In honor of his birthday, I asked everyone over dinner to tell what they know about the day they were born. It’s a fun question, really, since none of us can recall the day on our own. We can only hold on to the memories other people give us, the things they tell us.

Tyler knew he had been born with six fingers on his left hand, an extra pinky with a fingernail. He knew they took it off by tying a string around it, which is the nice way of saying how it all went down.

I didn’t add that they tied that string while I was nursing him, thereby traumatizing him and giving us a small setback on our breastfeeding journey together. I didn’t mention that because the last time I accidentally talked about nursing in front of my children, they nearly vomited at the table. So I learned there are things you don’t say.

Tucker knew that he had peed on the doctor right away, and that they had taken him away from me and down the hall because he couldn’t breathe. To this I added, “And his mom cried and cried because he had never been further away than her own heartbeat.”

Sean is Tyler’s best buddy, and he joined us for our weekend of celebrating. Sean said, “I know that everybody was happy on that day.”

Which I think is the sweetest, most wonderful thing to know for sure about the day you were born.

Peter, the youngest of five with four older sisters, knew that everyone was shocked and surprised to learn that their family finally had a little boy. A boy, after a whole slew of little girls. Pretty much, he was born saying, “Ta-da! Look what I have that nobody else has!”

And I knew that my mom’s water broke early in the morning, and she was so embarrassed to walk into the hospital as such a wet, dribbling mess. Mortified and temporarily forgetting she was as obviously pregnant as any woman who’s six days overdue, she said, “What on earth will people think when they see me?” And my dad, walking beside her, said, “I imagine they’ll think you’re going to have a baby today.”

And I knew that when my dad held me in his hands for the first time, the doctor reminded him that newborns can’t focus their vision very well, and I’d see only light and shadows, not really him. But my dad conducted his own new-dad experiment. He held me before him, he moved me back and forth, from left to right, and my eyes stayed locked with his. Like I knew who he was, like I had been waiting to meet the voice I’d been listening to. And in that moment, his heart leaped outside of his body and I’ve been carrying it around with me ever since.

(At least that’s how the story goes.)

 

On the day that you were born the angels got together.

And decided to create a dream come true.

So, they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold,

And star-light in your eyes of blue.

~  (They Long To Be) Close To You

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