Monday, May 11, 2009
Happy 9th Birthday Nolan James!
In the nine years since Nolan first graced us with his presence, one thing we can all agree on, he has a flair for the dramatic. His arrival into this world could not have been any more of a cliffhanger than it was. I am convinced my grueling labor and delivery fraught with emotional turmoil was symbolic for the unexpected rollercoaster that is our son.
He is intense, persistent, kind, unrelenting, demanding, loving, spirited, loud, smart, abrasive, caring, passionate and has boundless energy. He woke his grandmother up at 6 this morning. By 8 he begged his dad to take him golfing and they golfed 18 holes. We went out for a late lunch and then came home for a family birthday party. But he was convinced Colton blew out some of HIS candles on the cake, and drama ensued. He stripped down to his underwear and crawled under the table, wounded and upset, convinced the world was against him.
We're getting used to it. Its his M.O. His signal. When he has had too much stimulation, too much noise, too much of a lack of structure and routine, he lets us know by falling to pieces. Its taken us many years and much trial and error. But with the help of some good parenting books we have come to understand him. And the cure for him when he is tempermental and out of sync, is to get him to bed. Then we pray for a better day the next day!
But you can't help but love him. He has many friends. Many. He does well at school. He is a really good athlete. And he has a soft heart. Last year he came home wanting to invite "Taylor" to his party. He kept asking if it was okay. I kept saying yes without understanding what he was asking. So I asked his teacher. I'm not kidding when she teared up. It just so happens that Taylor, is the girl that sits in a wheelchair. She can't talk although she does make vocalizations. She clearly would not have been able to bowl.
Nolan didn't care. His reasoning was that if he were the one in the wheelchair, he would want someone to invite him to their party, so why shouldn't he invite Taylor to his? She could watch and just be part of it, couldn't she? So I called Taylor's mom. And she was both excited and disappointed. They were going out of town. But she was thrilled that Taylor had been asked, and she thanked me. I set her straight, it was all Nolan's doing, not mine.
I have an entire journal filled with "Nolan" stories. If ever there were a book to write, it would be about my journey with Nolan. No story however, comes close to topping his story about God and the sunburn.
When Nolan was three he had gone to play the Sunday golf game with his dad one April day. It was unusually warm that day and got up into the mid 60's. It was just warm enough to catch us off-guard and Nolan experienced his first sun burn. Oh did he howl when I gave him his bath that night. He could not fathom how that red had gotten on his skin. We put some ointment on it and put him in bed and he was much better in the morning.
A few days later after his bath he came to me. We'd had one of those days. I was in bed, emotionally drained and exhausted. Its hard to be three. Its even harder to be a parent of a child who is three. I was startled to see him creeping into my room. His eyes were downcast. His voice was somber and serious. "Mom, he said, his voice filled with resignation, "I think I'm dying." I got up from the bed. My mind started to spin.
I said "Nolan, what is wrong?"
"My skins coming off," he said. "I must be dying."
I said, "Nolan, what have you been doing? Did you get into something? DID YOU PUT SOMETHING IN YOUR MOUTH?"
"Oh mom," he said, "Every day I do. You tell me not to, but I do. I just can't help it.
"What Nolan, tell me what you put in your mouth?"
"I ate grass once," he said. "I eat dog food all the time. Oh, and I licked the bottom of my shoe. Yesterday I tasted the side of the car and its pooey mom, don't ever put your tongue on it!"
By now I am trying to hold my sides that are jiggling from the laughter trying to escape.
"Now my skin is coming off. Mom, I'll probably be going to heaven tonight. Don't be sad."
I am leaning over inspecting what I realized is the peeling sunburn now and hugging him at the same time.
"Oh Nolan" I managed to choke out.
As I go to get some lotion he tells me he has to use the bathroom. I holler at him to close the door and wait for him to return. As he comes around the corner he is smiling. "Mom! I've got it," he says. "Do you think God goes potty? Because if he does, and he closes the door, I'll just sneak down from Heaven when he isn't looking and give you a hug so you won't miss me too much."
And with that he ran back to bed.
He is a keeper that one. He tries our patience, and manages to find our last nerve. But the joy he brings, the laughter, the unique way of being in this world. He is more, and with that, we are more too. I can't wait to have the rest of this journey with him.
We love you Nolan! Happy Birthday Peanut!
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