Zeli’s 5th birthday is tonight. I always get reflective around each of the kid’s birthdays. I reminisce about my labor, their first days, their development and their growth. I tend to look through photo albums and to marvel at how they’ve changed. And I glance at old blogs that I've written about them, like this one that I love.
And inevitably this time makes me reflect on what I’ve learned from the child so far. And with Zeli, this is an easy one.
See, Zeli is the kid who has taught us – really, truly, intensely – taught us that they simply aren’t cookie cutters of each other and that each one really needs his own nurturing.
Obviously, as the kids have grown, they’ve all started to express their own personalities, interests and needs. When they were babies, however, they all acted in a relatively uniform way. Matan was standing by five months and climbing into the kitchen sink by 6 months. Yehuda, Amichai and Eliav followed suit, give or take a few months and a few antics.
And then Zeli arrived. Zeli was simply cut from a different gene pool. He must have been the happiest, smiliest child you’ve ever met, but he simply didn’t move. He smiled, he giggled, he charmed…but moved? Not his strong suit.
He first rolled over at 13 months. The doctors made us take him to physical therapy as a result of his slooooow progress, and yet he still progressed with his own good time. He actually never learned to crawl. What he did instead, that entertained absolutely anyone who ever saw him, was to scoot. He would scoot on his behind across the room, giggling and bouncing as he went. Enjoy his scooting here, at the bottom of this post. It's hysterical.
He was also the heaviest child we’ve ever had, and continued to be no matter how many diets the doctors tried to put him on (when you’re nursing exclusively, there aren’t too many ways to give the kid a diet…)
Anyway, with time, Zeli has continued to make his mark in his own original way. He’s quite uncoordinated and we’ve been sending him to Tae Kwon Do as a type of therapy. We recently went to his end of the year performance where he showed us that he certainly giggles and enjoys himself a lot. Tae Kwon Do skills? Not so much.
The stars around Zeli have aligned with 8s. He was born on the 8th of Av, which was also August 8, 2008. I couldn’t believe it when they brought me to delivery room 8. And as much as I tried to have him in the 8pm range, he held out until after 9. Can’t have everything. If 8s have something to do with giggly, giddy happiness and pure joy, then it’s understandable that Zeli was born under so many of these symbols.
Obviously, as parents, we all understand conceptually that our children are individuals. In practice, however, it’s so much easier to make comparisons and to see similarities. Many of us (myself definitely included) are creatures of habit. When a child sleeps through the night one time we desperately want to believe that they’ve set a pattern – that they will continue to act this way. Changes, transitions and differences are so much more complicated than is predictability and routine.
But parenting is all about throwing away predictability and routine and seeing what each day brings. And Zeli has reminded us over and over again just how unique each of our boys is and how much individualized attention and catering they need.
Happy Birthday little dude. May it be a year filled with much joy, many giggles and more forging of your own way in your unique Zeli fashion.