I can’t believe that my best little buddy is seven years old today. I really can’t.
7 years is a very long time.
But, in some ways it seems very short. I remember clearly how it felt when I held you for the first time. When you were born and we met and our friendship began:
That’s the moment we met. You were 7 HOURS old. I was the first person to meet you, except for your mom and dad. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Your mom called me at 7 am and when I picked up the phone she said, “He’s Here”. That was it. I was so happy that I forgot to ask her your name. I wanted to come meet you right then, but I had made your mommy a promise and I couldn’t break it.
When she was pregnant, she wanted a beer so bad. Newcastle was what she drank back then. But, she was carrying you, so she didn’t have one. I promised her that I would bring her a cold six-pack to the hospital on the day you were born. So, I had to wait until 9 am when the liquor store opened to buy her six-pack, before I could come and see you. Which is how it was 10 am before I got to meet you.
When I got there, your dad was holding you and I hugged your mom and gave her the present and she laughed and laughed until she had tears in her eyes. I think she thought I might have been kidding when I made that promise. I always remember that the first time I saw your mom after you were born, we were laughing. That’s a good start, I think.
Then, your dad turned to me and handed you to me. You were so small and perfect and you smelled good. Like softness. It is hard to smell soft, but you did. I looked at your little face and said, “Hi Baby” and then I looked at your dad and said, “What’s his name?” and he said they named you Clayton, after his grandfather.
I loved it.
Just like that, we were already the best of friends. I sat in that chair and stared at your face not even moving. I didn’t even know your dad took that picture until he emailed it to me later. I was so caught up in you.
A couple short months later, I started nannying for you and then I got to see you every day. I’ll admit, I went a little crazy taking pictures of you, but you were so darn cute. (You still are!)
Here’s just a few of my favorites.
I gave you that outfit. It was the first thing I ever bought you. And it was too big!
This is your very first smile. You smiled for ME the first time. I actually felt bad when your mom got home and I had to tell her you smiled and she didn’t get to see the first one. But it was special that you chose me to see your first smile. And I managed to catch it on camera, so she did get to see it.
This has always been one of my favorite pictures of you. I bought you that hat, too.
Here you are on the 4-wheeler I bought you for your first birthday. You weren’t even big enough to ride it then, but it didn’t matter. It was your first birthday and it had to be special. You rode that thing all the time, as soon as you were able. Then, when Lewie came along, you let him ride it, too.
That is one of my favorite pictures of us. Your mom took that at Christmas, when I came home from Washington DC, where I lived for a while. You probably don’t even remember when I didn’t live here, but it was hard for me to be away. I missed seeing you and playing with you. Your mom would call me and we would talk on the phone, but you were little and that wasn’t as much fun for you.
Then we have this. I said, “give me your very best smile” and that’s what I got. That picture makes me smile every time I look at it. I was babysitting you that day, your mom was out of town and your dad needed some help. I was so happy to come and play with you for a day, just you and me. It looks like you were happy, too.
Then along came your brother. You’re such a good big brother. This picture was from when I watched you and Lew overnight so your mom and dad could go away together. Your mom was worried because Lewie was only three months old, but we had a blast and you were such a huge help to me. I found out that was the first time you got to feed him, your mom and dad had never let you do it before. I guess that is why you thought it was so cool.
When you turned five, we went and had our first ever special birthday day. It was a blast. We went to a movie and the arcade and rode the carousel and went to the toy store and stopped for ice cream. You saw your first 3-D movie that day and it took me a long time to explain 3-D to you. But you really liked it. That was also the first time you went to the boys bathroom, alone, and I waited in the hall. I was so nervous. You seemed so small to me, only five! But you’re very smart and independent and you had no problem going alone.
When we got home that day you said to your mom, “I had the best day” and it made me so happy that I was able to do that for you.
Usually, when we’re together, we’re so silly we laugh and laugh until we can’t breathe. It is always so much fun being with you. Ever since you were born, we have had a special friendship and we just get along so very well. Your mom always said you were better behaved with me than anyone else. I think that is because we have so much fun there is just no time for anything else!
In that picture you are showing me the huge bump on your head. You got it while trying to pump water from an antique water pump and it was a job too big for a kid. That never stopped you, though, you’ll try anything. Then you got smacked in the head. You said it hurt, a LOT. You wanted to see what it looked like and there was no bathroom around. So you said to me, “take a picture and I’ll be able to see it on the camera.” That was so smart and I never even thought of that before!
No matter how silly we’re being, you always let me have one “nice” picture, every time we’re together. That’s so sweet of you to do that. I hope you know how much I appreciate it.
And now you’re a big 7-year-old. I can’t wait for our special birthday event. Start thinking about what you want to do. Maybe skydiving? (Mindy, Tom, that was a joke. I’m not taking him skydiving. Maybe when he’s 17….)
But, we’ll do something fun. And soon, it’s been too long since we got to hang out. Since January!
Before I end, do you want to see my absolute favorite picture of us?
I know you don’t remember that, how could you? You were only a few weeks old. I just started nannying for you and I was reading to you as your mom was getting ready for work. I remember your mom thought it was so cute that I would read to you, but I figured we should begin as we mean to go on. And, every time I am around you at bedtime I have read you a story. Right? I love reading with you and I guess, because of how often you ask, that you like it when I read to you, even now that you can read yourself.
Even though you are getting so big, way too fast, I still remember how much fun we had when you were small. We are very lucky that we have such a good friendship. I know that no matter how old you get, we will always be friends. And I know that you know that, too.
The day your mom told me that she was pregnant with you was one of the best days of my life, and that was before I knew how awesome you are.
Thanks for being such a good friend and such an amazing kid. I love you very much.
Happy Birthday, Clayton!