Birthdays come fast and furious here, and we’ve had another one this past week. You, little Griffin, are now two. Oh-so-very two. I was caught up for a moment feeling guilty that I had yet to write about your birthday but reminded myself that I only just wrote of Grant’s, three weeks late, and he is the first born, so take note that though my words are a few days past it is not any reflection on our delightful celebration of you.
Two years ago, when I was very pregnant with you and we had waddled our way past the stretch of holidays and plopped ungracefully into the new year, I made a playlist and called it “Waiting for Baby #3.” I burned that playlist onto a CD and we listened mostly all the time, in the car driving kids to preschool, in the kitchen making dinner, and we wondered when you would come, who you would be. Your birth was fast, and easy, and it was only after the midwives and nurses left us alone to discover you that we remembered that we had our music with us. We pushed play, and listened again, this time not so much waiting for, but holding, Baby #3.
I still love that playlist. Music has power in my life, and in the life of this family, and when I hear those songs I am brought straight back into the glory of your first week of life. There mellow songs that call into my depth and bring up that rush of first week hormonal bliss. I was in love: with you, with our family, with life. And there are not-so-mellow songs. We have a bit of a family joke, even. Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” is in the set, and with birthing a baby as backdrop it doesn’t take much for his words “Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring” to take on a whole new meaning.
Griffin, you know the story of your birth, how we laughed you into this world and how you were gathered up into your tribe. We tell it every year, and every year rejoice in the ways that you have been woven into the fabric of this family. As Baby #3 you had so much good waiting for you. And while it may seem that as #3 you are swept into the fury of this river already rolling through, (and yes, this is true), you are carving through the rocks and making your mark just like the rest of us. I’d even venture to say that you have the best vantage out of all of us: you are hoisted onto the shoulders of Grant and Renee.
Griffin, this year you grew from baby to toddler, and it was as if you did it in one big breath. You’ve been early and eager to do most things, and one of your favorite things to say to me is “I got it.”
“Griffin, can I help you put your shoes on?”
“I got it,” you forcefully tell me, yanking the shoes out of my hand.
I will say that sometimes this is a relief, and in the middle of the almost always panicked rush to get out the door getting bigger kids to school, you are more reliable than I ever would have guessed at getting your very own shoes on, (though not always on the right feet, but let’s not be choosy here. And even with that, if I try to fix it you often will not let me!)
You have found delightful playmates in your brother and sister, and they too have taken you under their wing. Renee especially likes to have someone that will follow her every lead, and you do. It is a known fact that Renee sheds her clothing like a cicada climbs out of it’s shell, and often her games have either substantial costume changes or else very little clothing at all. When you play with her, you do exactly as she does. I’ll come back from putting a load of laundry in to find that you are wearing no pants. And in your very own way you explain to me when I ask:
“Griffin, where are your pants?”
“M’off” you’ll tell me, and walk away. As in, “I took them off. No big whoop.”
While you are more self-sufficient than I remember anyone else being at this age, you also get into trouble more than I remember anyone else getting into. Maybe Grant and Renee lacked imagination, or opportunity, but you have always had me running to stay a step ahead of you with very little luck. You are the one that toddler stories come from: you know, the stories about markers on walls, or strange adventures with toilets.
This week you decided you were too grown up for the booster seat, and now refuse to sit in it at the table, claiming any and all other chairs as your own. You make it impossible to argue, and so we rearranged the seats at our table, and I’ve simply added the constant reminder “knees or bottom” to our dinner conversations. It seems that you call the shots around here.
You and me, we spend our time together. Often their is a sibling or two with us, but sometimes it’s just us. There is very little that I do without you, and your company keeps me laughing with every trip to Target, every run to the post office. You are no longer content to hike around snugged up on my back, but prefer to explore the world on your own. Things may take us a bit longer, and there are moments that I wish I could just make dinner without you climbing up my leg towards the hot stove to check it all out, but your presence has called me towards a slowness, towards an attentiveness, that I may not have found on my own.
This year, as you were unwrapping birthday gifts, just a few weeks after unwrapping Christmas gifts, you were definitive in your claim: “mine!” you said forcefully each time Grant or Renee approached. “Mine!” This did not happen at Christmas, but I think you know why. Christmas was about our whole family together. But this birthday? Well, this birthday is all yours. You got it, baby.