I remember the day you were born, so very small and curly black hair all over your head. I drove to the hospital with Grandma. Back then, I didn’t know your mom very well, but I was so happy she called. Pa left from work and met us at the hospital.
You were the first baby to join our family. I remember when I held you, it felt strange. Like you were brand new to me, but somehow, I loved you already. Luckily, when Arionna was born and I got that same feeling, I recognized it, because you had already taught me.
It’s too bad that your parents didn’t get along so well after you were born. It meant that I didn’t see you again until you were almost 9 months old, just before your first Christmas. You came to visit us and I remember how fascinated we all were with you. I took tons of pictures of you that day, but back then, Auntie Livi only had a film camera. (Someday, I’ll explain film cameras to you). But a couple have been digitized.
It’s bad quality, but it is still one of my favorite pictures, because it marked the day you truly became part of our lives. After that, we were able to see you more and more. You started spending weekends at Grandma and Pa’s house and I still lived there, then.
We used to play together all the time and it was always tough to make you laugh. That might seem strange, but you always made me feel like I really had to work for it, and that made every smile, every laugh, that much more precious.
That next Christmas, I gave you a Cabbage Patch doll, and everyone but Grandma made fun of me, because you were a boy. But, I thought it was important for boys to play with dolls. You never liked it that much, but when you held him, you were always gentle. And you are gentle still, when you are around babies. I think it is sweet, that as rough-and-tumble as you are, you can be so gentle, so tender when you’re around children smaller than you.
And though it was never your favorite toy, you did play with him sometimes. Orrin is his name, even though Grandma always calls him Omar. I promise, his name is Orrin.
And you always did like changing his diaper, weird as that may seem.
You also had a thing about being naked. Not just in the bath,
but just whenever and wherever.
That one was actually your second birthday. We got you overnight and after your bath, Grandma could not get you dressed again.
Even when you became a much bigger boy!
Even though it doesn’t really fit with my story, I have to pause and remind you of how your mother gave you a mohawk when you were two years old. We try not to remember it too much, but I do have pictures…
Yeah, it was that bad, buddy. Sorry about that. Luckily it grew out.
When Arionna was born, you were so excited to have a cousin. You were impossibly sweet to her, and still are, which could be why you are her favorite person in the whole wide world.
Besides Arionna, Josie might be your favorite “person” in the whole wide world. You were scared of her when you were really small, because she’s a very big dog, but then, one day, you just started petting her and from that moment on, the two of you were the best of friends.
She still loves you, possibly more than anyone else. You play with her and give her treats and whenever you’re around, she follows you wherever you go.
When we get to see you, we always try to do something fun, something special and we’ve done so many things together, it might explain why I have SO MANY pictures of you.
We’ve gone to the zoo and the conservatory, many times. Some of my favorite pictures of you are from those visits.
There was a sign that said, “don’t ride the zebra” but I put you on it anyway. I’m fun like that, but you already know that.
That is still, to this day, one of my most favorite pictures of you. It wasn’t posed, you just stood like that and looked at me. You would not smile, and now, I’m glad, because I like it better this way. It just shows more of your personality.
Every year, we take you to the “Big Truck Extravaganza” and you just love it. You’ve been obsessed with trucks and trains since you could first talk.
I don’t know if it is because I take so many pictures of you, but you’ve developed an interest in photography. Every time my camera comes out, you want it. I always let you do it, and you’ve gotten very good at it. You have a habit of taking funny pictures of yourself, but they always make me laugh.
You took that one, and I just love it. We look so happy, we must have been having a ton of fun.
Then, when I got my camera back from you, I got these two:
It’s rare that you sit still and smile for me when I’m taking pictures of you, I usually have to bribe you, but every once in a while, you let me do it and it always makes me happy.
But then, sometimes, you’re just so happy, you don’t even care that I’m taking pictures of you.
That was the 4th of July, you were sitting on the roof of Grandma’s car, on the side of the road, just watching fireworks and you had so much fun, you laughed and talked about it for weeks afterward.
Last summer, when you were four, Grandma and I took you on a real train ride. I’ve never seen you so happy. You were full of questions about absolutely everything.
I didn’t have answers for hardly anything (and you’ll find that is pretty rare for me) but we found a nice worker and you stood and asked him question after question and he answered them all. You’re so smart, you remember everything you’re told and understand things in your own way. Even now, over a year later, I bet you could still tell me all about that train ride and what you learned.
I bought you toy trains that day, so you’d have something to remember and you loved them so much. We stopped in Stillwater on the way home to watch the lift bridge and here, you’re demonstrating how the bridge goes up and down, but also notice how your new trains are displayed at your feet.
That same day, I got this picture of us, one of my favorites. We don’t have that many pictures of just the two of us, because it is always you or me that is taking the pictures. I think we should teach Arionna how to take them so that we can be in more together, what do you think?
Lastly, from that day, I took this picture. You were staring out at the world rushing by from the moving train and you were so deep in thought you didn’t even know I took this. And I was close to you. I was actually holding you up, so you could peer out the door of the train (even after the guy told me not to do that because it wasn’t safe–I told you, I’m fun like that, breaking rules to let you have more fun).
And while I have said that many of these pictures are my favorite, that one is, so far, my all-time favorite picture of you. I’m sure you recognize it, because it is framed in my living room.
You’re such a cool kid, Simon. You make me laugh and I love talking to you so much. I think you like talking to me, too, because we always have the best conversations. Plus, I’m the one who makes you do weird things, like have a sword fight with corn on the cob:
But, who else are you going to do those things with? You need me around, dude, because I’m not like everyone else you know. Which works our perfect, because you aren’t like anyone I know either. You’re completely unique and one of my favorite people in the world.
No matter what we’re doing, it’s always a good time when we’re together.
Now that you’re five, I’m thinking you’ll start remembering more and more of these things we do together, but if you don’t remember the fun and the good times from the first five years, just ask your favorite Auntie Livi, I’ve got the stories and I’ve got the pictures.
“The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.” Some might say menace, but if they’ve ever talked to you, they’d realize that talking five is actually pretty cool. Just like you.
I love you, Simon.
Happy 5th Birthday!
Loving you more than you’ll ever know,
(you took that!)