Ah, Michael, you are the child who is so unlike me. Sometimes I have looked at you in awe, wondering how it is that I have produced such a child. By the age of two, it was obvious that you had outstripped me in mechanical genius, when you took it upon yourself to replace a dead battery in the toy train engine, that had finally, blessedly gone silent after weeks of constant use.
You opened up the battery compartment of the toy, took out the old battery, went to the drawer where we kept batteries, pulled out the right size battery, put it in the correct way, closed up the battery compartment, and went toddling away with that pleased smile I’ve come to know so well and the train engine running, pressed noisily up to your ear. I watched the whole thing in shock. I, a woman who barely knew what a straight edge screwdriver was, had produced this child.
I remember one particularly trying day, when I had gotten out late from class. I had to pick your brother up at day care, you at preschool and your sister at elementary school. Nothing was going right.
We were finally on our way, racing across town to get to the elementary school when we were stopped at a railroad crossing waiting for an approaching train. You had been begging me to turn the radio on, which I finally had done. Now, you were tugging at my sleeve asking me to turn the radio off.
“But, Mikey,” I said with all the exasperation I was feeling, “you just asked me to turn it on!”
“Mommy, just listen.”
So, I turned off the radio, and did just that. Wrapped in the cocoon of our car, you and I sat listening in companionable silence to the clickety clack of the train. You with that silly precious grin pasted all over your face, and me suddenly engulfed by your pure sense of joy. There are so many little slices of the world that I would have missed, my son, had you not been there to show me.
Today is your birthday, Michael. I celebrate it not only for you, but for what having you has brought to my life. Happy Birthday, Mikey Boy!