Monday, 2 July 2012

An open letter to my son on his birthday

Happy birthday Iain. 17 Years ago today you came into our lives. You put your mom through hell at the hospital, it took almost 3 days for you to decide to make your entrance, but that's another story. We should have known then you'd be your own person at times, doing things your way. For the most part, you have!

You started your life in a small 2 bedroom apartment with no air, no car, no computer, not much of anything. I wasn't working so I was your life then. I fed you, changed you, taught you, and all the other things a parent does, while your mom worked. Mostly, I filmed you. The video camera was the outlet then. I took you for bus rides just for fun, or to the beach to you could just play in the sand.

You got older and bigger. We began to outgrow the apartment and moved to a rented house, and I started working. Mom and I were on opposite shifts so everything worked out. We even bought a van by then, even though it was used. You didn't talk until you were 2 1/2 years old. That started worrying me until your mother reminded me that Einstein didn't say a word til he was almost 5. On a trip to the Niagara region around that time we went to Marine Land, and you surprised us both with a loud "Look at the Whales Mommy!" We were both shocked, but happy. You just didn't want to talk.

You grew up in that little house, you learned to ride your bike there, you started school there, we played in the park around the corner, you made friends, and you hated cleaning your room. We loved dumping the lego box on the floor and building things for hours, and jumping in the pool on a hot day.

When you were six, you asked why you didn't have a brother or sister. Mom and I always talked about having a second child but the time wasn't right. We knew then it was. Your sister Riley came along a little later. You loved her from the start. You were finally a big brother and you took to the role with great enthusiasm. You tried to teach her all the things you learned while she was still an infant. It didn't matter that she had no idea who this face was constantly staring at her, you felt the need to protect and teach her. And you did.

You continued to grow, and so did your interests. Some were passing fads, some stayed with you. You learned to read early and never let up. Now it's a passion of yours to get lost in a book. You dabbled in the toys that the other kids were into, but you kept coming back to your favourites, like music, books, lego, bikes, and other things. We knew you were on the right path. And you wanted to make sure your sister was there too.

We moved again in 2004, after Nana passed away, and Papa moved in with us. You had a new school to contend with and you missed your old friends. But you started over. You made new friends, and we realized that our entire family lived within 3 blocks of each other. Papa settled in and you guys had the wonderful opportunity to learn from him. You even played soccer with him in the back yard.

You wanted your new room painted in Toronto Maple Leaf colours, and decorated the same way, but you still had an aversion to cleaning it! You found new hobbies and interests, you tried new things, like golf, and we never could get you off your bike or out of the pool. By this time you began using the computer, and wanted one of your own, of course, we said no! You were becoming more independent and adventurous with new friends and the new school, but always, you looked out for your little sister. You helped me around the house, doing drywall, learning to use tools, helping with fences and gates, helping with a new patio, and more. You learned to climb the tree, and discovered that girls really aren't so bad after all.

Papa passed away in 2009 and it broke everyone's heart, especially yours. You were with him when he died. You showed true love for him, and from that day I knew what kind of person you were destined to be - one with a bigger heart than most, and one who cared about his family more than yourself.

Your interests continued, you began teaching yourself guitar, and you're getting quite good at it. You even financed your own bass, and paid it off yourself. Your interest in computers began to take the shape of recording your own music. Please don't stop that, you never know where you'll end up with your talent. You were the reason I wanted drums!

Today you turn 17. You're not an adult yet, but you're far from being a child now. You still watch out for your little sister, and you argue with us when you don't see our point of view, but you're always there to help people in need, regardless of who it is. You have been there for me when I was diagnosed with Bipolar, and you learned to help me with that - even though you keep referring to me as your certifiably insane parental unit. You help your mother often, you cook, you clean (when threatened), you have a good group of friends, and most of all, you believe and understand what family means.

Happy birthday Iain. For all the good and bad that has come our way over the years, you have only started your journey into this life, and you're on track to be a wonderful person. I love you.