Six years ago from about now, I had come home, a newly-minted father, without the slightest clue what you were about to do to my life, Monkey. I had no idea what awaited me, not a hint of what things you would make me learn or the things you would teach me. I had no idea how much more I would value life, how I would see things differently, and how I would relate to the world around me.
Six years later, I cannot imagine my life without you. I have trouble even remembering you now as a baby, or the little toddler who simultaneous loved and could barely stand eating ice cream. Because who you are today seems so far from the tiny child you were.
Happy birthday, Monkey.
I left early this morning. The last two months have been been hard on me, with a lot of early mornings going to work, and late evenings trying to keep my head above water. The summer seems to have slipped through my fingers, and I feel like I’ve barely had time to enjoy it with you. Today, sadly, was no different, with me trying to get as many of the things on my plate tied off so I can spend a week with you. But it meant I had to work on your birthday, which I really didn’t want to do.
Mommy has converted me. Since my mid-20s, I had thought little of my birthday. I had thrown myself a couple of nice parties over the years, but the celebratory nature always seemed too forced, and it’s hard to get everyone excited. Not long after we started dating, Mommy started pushing me to taking birthdays off — hers and mine. When you were born, it naturally included my children, too. And for the last few years, I’ve done just that. Until this year — I had to work my birthday, and sadly, most of yours.
I can’t apologise any harder than I have today, Monkey. But somehow, I think you understood. We cuddled on the front steps for nearly an hour, and you seemed absolutely happy. It might have been the happiest moment of my summer.
You chose dinner, which was at Montana’s. I don’t know what you see in that place, though I do understand the appeal today — you got to wear the moose antlers while the staff sung you a song. The food is terrible, the service sub-standard, but if it puts a smile on your face, I’ll happily bring you there again.
Grandma met us at home not long after we returned, and you opened your presents (including your brand-new ukelele), had your freshly-made birthday cake, we read stories, and you played a while. Then you played me a song you made up on the ukelele — a cowgirl tune, you said, as you tapped your fingers on the ukelele’s body to mimic the horse hooves — which made me realise that you may have the musical talent I’ve longed for throughout my life. I guess time will tell.
You’re in bed now, dreaming of making music, and seeing Grandpa and Granny tomorrow. And I truly hope you had a wonderful birthday.