It’s 5:20. I slept in. Coffee’s ready. Time for writing.


“Hi, Mom!” This is Mom Time. Not Mom-Declan time, even though it’s his birthday.

“You can’t be up now! It’s too early.” He tells me he’s an early bird. Tonight, he’ll tell me he’s a night owl. I say he can’t be both.

“Happy birthday, buddy! Let’s get you back to bed.” He protests.

“I have to get up early so I can be seven sooner.” Moot point, I tell him. I gave birth at 5:01 PM. Sleep now, be seven later. He nearly cries. He thinks I’m taking away a day of his birthday. He insists he’s seven now. I tell him he’s right, stop crying.

This will be the first birthday we spend apart. I always take the day off. We go to the zoo and eat french fries, the only day I buy tourist-priced fries. He says they’re better than mine.

Declan has school. I have a wedding. I tell him I took the day off to cook his birthday breakfast and put him on the bus.

He’s not going back to bed, so I tell him his birth day story. I tell it every year.

“Am I six or seven? You said I can’t be seven until dinner time!” He’s still worried I’m stealing a day. I tell him how on this day, seven years ago, I woke up and went to the hospital. I tell him how he was supposed to be born in May but he was very late.

“It was a Thursday. They gave me a special medicine. I had you.” I tell him how they took my food and played documentaries of Normandy. He asks why they didn’t play something about dinosaurs.

This year he doesn’t ask the questions about “How did I get in?” and whether mothers are cannibals since they have babies in their bellies. He seems to know when I skipped the good part of a story or didn’t quite answer his question. He’s not hounding me now.

“You were born at 5:01 and you were a very good baby that night. Grandma stayed with us in the hospital, and you slept. You were happy.” I don’t tell him about the circumcision. Birth stories should be happy. “But the next day you cried. You were very, very hungry. I didn’t get much peace.”

He laughed. He eats poorly now. Yesterday, his last day of six, I told him to eat what I made or starve.

“You’re turning into Grandma!” Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Moms learn one lesson at a time till they turn into Grandma. Like “No jumping on the couch.” I thought jumping on the couch was fun until one day a spring gave me a proctology exam. Lesson learned.

Most parenting lessons are designed to save money such as, “Don’t waste food or break couches,” or give moms a modicum of peace, “Go to bed now,” or “Go play in your room.”

He didn’t go back to bed. He’s enjoying an extra two hours of being seven. I’m drinking coffee.  Compromise. It’s what peace is all about. World leaders should try it.

I’ve been blessed with seven years of a good, crafty little boy. He loves dinos, discovered Rated E video games, has bad handwriting “just like Mom,” a quick temper “just like Dad and my sister,” and says things like “Homework’s silly. I already know this.” He gives the world a run for its money. He toggles on the line between genius and highly inappropriate. He writes ten pages stories about Dr. Seuss and made his first appearance as the topic of a motivational speech. He’s going places. If he doesn’t drive me crazy by eight.

He said, “Because of you, I’m not going to college!” That’s true. I told him I’m not saving enough money. Instead, I’ll get him a one-way ticket to his mentor with a sign that says, “Drop-kick me into reality,” after high school graduation festivities are over.

He doesn’t understand now, parents have success planned out for their children well in advance. We hope they choose to take advantage of our hard work. I want Declan to be great. He just wants clay for his birthday so he can make more zombies.

He tells me he can watch Sponge Bob now that he’s seven but that he’s really waiting for thirteen, because teens make their own rules.

I beg to differ. My dad always said, “Democracy ends at the end of the driveway,” which is true to the extent that democracy exists at all. That’s a topic for another day.

For now, we’re having a peaceful moment. I get up to make the birthday pancakes which celebrate his seven years on this planet. We still have a few birthdays left before he shakes up the world.


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