My amazing Enlai, you are seven years old today. Not long ago, you and I looked at several old photos of you. We laughed at your funny antics, your silly faces, and I was reminded of how your pa has always said you like to “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”. Somehow, my son, I believe you have learnt to fill your minute with at least seventy three seconds’ run. Time seems to be sharing a secret with you.
This seems a momentous birthday because I was seven when my parents divorced. I remember so many details from that period, details that may have seemed insignificant to others but were colossal to me. And I have always been mindful of this when parenting you. We are both sensitive souls, you and I, and it is important to me that this seventh year of your life is one which makes you feel warm, feel more love than you’ve ever felt. I hope it is a year that you look back upon and preface any words of recollections with a smile.
Happy Birthday to you, my Enlai, whose mind is a rich repository of all things superheroes. What you may not know is that you are my personal superhero and possess more power in that brain of yours than the powers of Doctor Strange, The Flash, and Martian Manhunter combined.
You, who questions absolutely everything, including why more people don’t say “Amn’t I” as opposed to “Aren’t I”, whether God exists, whether yellow is actually yellow, and whether 8pm is in fact a good time for a child to go to bed.
You, who every time has been given an opportunity to make a wish over the last year, whether when throwing a coin in a fountain or blowing on dandelions or birthday candles, has wished for your friend Vanessa to be well again and for your brother Lumen to lose all his allergies.
You, who I see being fragile when we are alone together. When your eyes tell their stories.
You, whose teacher began your end-of-year report with “Enlai is a happy child” and conveyed that you are one who exemplifies empathy.
You, who says you don’t like to wear jeans because they feel too “crunchy”, eat a certain pizza because it’s too “creamish”, or doesn’t want to get involved in a situation because it feels too “crumbly”.
You, who laughs the most sincere and contagious laugh when you are playing practical jokes on people. That fake poo joke we played on grandpa and grandma is one for the books.
You, who turns to paper and pen when you feel most passionate about something. And whose writing and art show just how observant you are.
You, who favours walking next to your mates with your arm around them.
You, who have inherited the gift of the gab from your pa. After I told you, “You don’t always have to talk. Empty, quiet spaces are a good thing, and silence can be golden,” you responded, “No, silence is not golden, it’s more like metal or wood.”
You, who shares everything – your toys, your food, your opinions, your time.
You, who always asks the definitions of the words I use. And remembers the definition and uses the word.
You, who has realised the power of your vivid imagination over the last year. You have your dreamcatcher for any nightmares, an endless supply of paper for your ideas, and a mother you can rely on to hold you, to listen, to encourage.
You, whose sort-of-American-sort-of-British accent makes me laugh.
You, who are so patient with and so protective of your little brother. He is so lucky to have you in his life.
You, who likes to assert your newly-found attitude by saying, “I don’t care.” I know you do, and in your seventh year, I wish for you an understanding of why you always should.
You, who overheard a conversation when a man used the word stupid. You proceeded to dictate said conversation to me, stating, “I won’t say the word because you’ll get upset with me. I’ll spell it: S-T-O-O-P-I-D.” I felt it necessary to correct you, and you thought I was pulling a quick one on you, replying, “Oh, I’m not falling for that one. A man knows how to spell his bad words.”
You, who has a nurturing nature which I hope will always stay with you.
Despite the fact that it is your birthday, my love, I am the one who has received the gift.