Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Happy Birthday, Merrick
Merrick, today you are five! Your mother never thought she'd have children. There's evidence of this somewhere, a wedding video replete with martinis and cigarettes, in which she swears off children like fleas. Three months later? Pregnant. Once she had one, she knew she needed a bundle of children, a pack. Not that she necessarily enjoyed children so much. Just that your mother recognized her own intensity demanded distribution among many rather than laser-like focus on one.
Because of -- well, big busy beautiful Life with complications -- your conception was delayed until your mother saw the big 4-0 bearing down, fast. Later, your parents decided, for the first time, not to find out which gender was brewing.
But one night, your mother got up to use the bathroom for the 200 millionth time. She looked out the window. Brittle snow and a bright moon, a black northern night. And as she turned from the window, she knew you were a boy. She felt you.
When you finally arrived (9 lbs and 11 ounces of you!), we simply threw you into the mix. One of the pack. So there was a lot of this:
You proved to be durable, of flexible purpose.
Usurped from her place as the youngest, your sister observed: "Merrick's head looks like a big chunk of meatloaf. He's a meatloaf head."
Mama asked: "How do you feel about your baby brother?"
Scarlett: "I half love him and half hate him."
Mama: "Have you ever seen meatloaf?"
Scarlett: "I have now. Meatloaf Head."
Meatloaf Head, your big sister's Love Half soon swelled to a Love Whole.
But the name stuck. Meatloaf Head or MLH for short. You also received no small amount of affection from your big brother.
Those big kids touched the moon! Later bedtimes! Books they could read without Mama! The freedom to stand up and grab a glass! They could perform miracles like making Barney appear on the television, cut shapes from paper, and make Grandma's voice come through the telephone. Their powers were magical, enviable.
So there was also a whole lot of this:
You are all about catching up. Keeping up. But sweetie, you stand alone in your love for our puppies. Here you are with the regal Thurston. We miss you, gentle friend.
Your brothers and sisters came without the Zap Tingle Itch Ow! Skin with which you were born. Shorts? One pair will do, those with the perfectly worn elastic and tag long cut off. Shirt sleeves must fall 4 exacting inches below the shoulder with a neckline soft and pristine. You now need 20 minutes to put on your shoes because of that dreadful sock seam. The sock seam is Satan. And he hurts your skin.
You loved motorcycles early, and still do. You got your first ride on a real motorcycle when you were three (ssshhh! don't tell Child Protection!). It was just 5 miles an hour and one block long, but still--you had arrived.
Even though you scream "Don't say that!" when I do: you are my sweet baby. You know that book, Love You Forever? Every night I sneak into your room and stare. How lucky did I get ?
Last night I tried to read that book out loud to you and Scarlett. But I couldn't. I can never read that book without utter collapse. Last night was no exception, choking up -- sadness, love, happiness, the rub and roar of all this that is you, me, the great big family. When I couldn't continue, Scarlett took the book and said, "Let me read for you, Mama."
Then you asked me why I started crying even harder.
Merrick, you love weaponry, dogs and cats, stuffed animals and spicy rice and tofu. You are always good for a cuddle. You are a good friend and are lucky enough to share your brother's wicked sense of humor. If your Ninja Turtle Sword is on the third floor and you're in the basement, your legs will hurt and tummy churn and certainly, your Mama will retrieve it? You have a way with balls and sport, batting like a 10 year-old, making basket after basket and catching Daddy's hard balls.
You might be the one to support us.
Till then, we'll do the supporting and more. With joy. Happy birthday, babe.