You were born a year ago today. Your father and I didn’t know about you then. We were celebrating the holidays in Whistler, vaguely wondering what the new year would bring.
You were born at St. Paul’s hospital, where you lived for the first week of your life. The nurses adored you. Your birth mother wanted some wonderful things for you. She wanted you to join a family that would accept you any way you are. She wanted you to participate in social traditions and be close to your extended family.
Now we’re up at Whistler again, with Gramma Janet and Grandpa Ken. We took you out in your new sleigh in the snow yesterday morning, so bundled up you could barely move your arms.
You’re one of the happiest, most social babies I’ve ever known. Your smile lights up your face and the room you’re in, and you’ve used it to charm even the most hesitant of people. Happiest when you have an audience fawning over you, you manage not to be too demanding of constant attention.
My favourite thing in the world is when you take a break from playing to come and put your head on my shoulder or flop down into my lap for a couple minutes.
You started walking when you were just 10.5 months old. You were always precocious in your physical development. When you were still learning to be steady on your feet, you always preferred to hold just one hand, not both.
You understand so much, now. You know the names of your toys, and you duck down behind the arm of the sofa to hide, and then you pop up with a big grin.
You got the music in you. When a good tune comes on or especially when Daddy sings or beat-boxes to you, you dance. You wiggle left and right and shake your head and wave your arm and it’s utterly delightful. And pretty hilarious.
You vocalize all the time, which sometimes involves letting out a blood-curdling shriek. But you’ve never much made consonant sounds and we’ve recently discovered you’re quite literally tongue-tied. Next week you’ll undergo a procedure to remedy that, and whether it helps you make some new sounds or not, it’s possible you’ll need some speech therapy.
In your first year you’ve had some favourite toys, but none you’ve gotten particularly attached to. Your purple dinosaur, your gorilla, various balls and blocks. But by far your favourite things are books. We can recite The Gruffalo to you from memory now, and you cycle through preferences every few weeks. It takes a couple weeks for you to love a book after we first introduce you to it. Bookstores and libraries make you squeal in delight.
And lights! How you love lights. When you enter a room you point up at them. I’ve been telling you all the Christmas lights around town are for your birthday. Last week we went on the Stanley Park Bright Nights Christmas train, and the next day we went to the Van Dusen Gardens Festival of Lights. You were wide-eyed at each, reaching out for all the lights.
Daddy and I are celebrating Hanukkah for the first time in many years, and you love looking at the candle lights. We’re enjoying creating these family traditions, and we talk about what new kinds of traditions we’ll come up with over the next year, as you’re more and more able to understand and affect the world around you. At least one of them, for sure, will involve pancakes.
You were a purple dinosaur for Halloween.
You ended your first year with eight teeth, with a big old gap between the two top ones in front. Though you weren’t initially a fan of bananas or peas, we have yet to meet a food you don’t eventually devour with great enthusiasm. Despite your voracious appetite, you’re a relatively skinny little dude, hanging out at around the tenth percentile in weight for babies your age. On the other hand, you’re around the 90th percentile in height. And then there’s your tremendous head.
You’ve had two wonderful babysitters this year. Kaitlyn just had her baby, and I hope we find some time to meet him soon. And Emily. Oh, Emily. How you adore her. We all adore her. She takes you swimming every week, and on other grand adventures around town.
Your first year may end up being quite a momentous one in history, little man. There was the Arab Spring and the start of the Occupy movement. Major natural disasters that (hopefully) convinced more and more people that we’d better dig our heels in and do something to curb climate change. I spent many an hour reading about possible nuclear disaster in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami there, while you slept on my shoulder. Throughout all that turmoil, you did all the amazing things babies do. You rolled over, laughed, flirted, crawled, walked.
My little dude. I love you more than anyone, in ways that are different than I ever knew existed. Next week we’ll celebrate your coming to our family, and then we’ll properly look ahead to what we think the next year might hold. We know now not to take those musings too seriously, because who knows what unexpected magical things will happen. Best to go into it happy, with love, and with a keen eye for seizing the adventures that present themselves.
Happy birthday, Owen. May the next year bring you unexpected adventures of only the happy, wonderful, magical sort.