Dear Son #2,
“William, you were so brave my boy” I exclaimed to you in the car as Daddy navigated through the busy downtown Toronto traffic. You looked at me with your big green eyes that were wet with unshed tears, your breath shaky and your face pasty white from both the lingering car sickness and the procedure you just endured. “No I wasn’t Mommy.” you whispered, “I didn’t stay still all the time. I wasn’t brave.” As I held back my own tears I croaked, “William, dude, you just had a hose up your bum.” I climbed into the back seat with you, stroked your leg and tried to cradle you in my arms (as best as I could while you being strapped in a booster) and you promptly fell asleep, exhausted.
Today you are turning 5. And, like every post I make when you boys make another trip around the sun, I can’t believe it. I just can’t. I can’t believe how fast time is flying by and the strong, kind, sensitive and brave little man you are becoming. Brave being the key word from day one as you couldn’t even make it out of the womb the easy way. You came into this world the hardest way possible and was immediately nicknamed “The Smurf Baby” by all of the astounded nurses working that shift. Black and blue from the bruising and sore from the cuts, you didn’t even cry. At a mere few hours old, you were so brave.
As you navigated your new world with your older and not-one-bit-gentle brother, you persevered through your first haircut at 6-months-old (more of a forehead slice) and played the “horsey” on far too many occasions than I’m proud to admit; I started to wonder if I should replace the swaddling blankets with bubble wrap. I clearly should have because every year came with more injuries, mishaps, and incidents that you braved through like a champ. Then you started to learn how to use the potty and following that has been years of tests, X-rays, needles, a variety of gross tasting concoctions, pokes and prods, and of course, the hose up the bum. William, you cannot sit there and tell me you aren’t brave.
As we lurched through the Toronto traffic, I clutched an empty plastic bag in anticipation of what was to come, as I remembered our drive down earlier. In a rush to get going in the morning I forgot to give you your Gravol. All was fine until we hit rush hour. Up came your bagel all down your shirt and your carseat. Luckily I had packed you a sweater, your pants were salvageable and we switched your seat with Pieter’s as we threw yours in the back of the truck and merged back onto the 400. Sadly our good luck was short-lived when we hit the 401 and the rest of the bagel made an appearance. At this point— while trying to focus on holding an empty Tim Horton’s bag under your chin, baby-wipe as much as a could, and Google any Wal-Marts on route to Sick Kids (there are none FYI)-I couldn’t imagine how you were feeling at this point. No doubt nervous about the upcoming test at a new hospital, absolutely nauseous from the Drive-From-Hell, and uncomfortable sitting in your underwear with all the windows down. After two more stops for clean-up and (mercifully!) to get you some new clothes, we had made it to the hospital. You hopped out of the truck slightly shakily, white as a ghost, sporting your new outfit and exclaimed “Wow! Are we underground??? This is sooooo cool! I can’t wait to tell Pieter!!!”
My word son, you were in better shape than either of us, not brave you say?
We have now been on a journey for the last three weeks that is simply worse than ever. Worse than the car sickness, the invasive tests, and the multiple injuries. The removal of all dairy from your diet. Foods that you loved, that you looked forward to, and that were major staples in your life are gone now and replaced with absolutely terrible imitations. I get it buddy, I really do—almond milk ISN’T MILK, plant-based cheese made out of potato starch ISN’T CHEESE, coconut yogurt ISN’T YOGURT and I don’t know what kind of ice cream I found for you but it ISN’T ICE CREAM! But guess what? You are braving it like a champion. Because it’s working. For the first time in over two years something is finally making you feel better. It sucks but you’re braver than me if I couldn’t have cheese anymore.
After what felt like a 3-hour hike as we wound through the cavernous insides of Sick Kids, we found ourselves in the waiting room of where we needed to be 20-minutes ago. I got you into your gown and you quietly played with the waiting room toys while we waited for your turn. It was not a quiet wait either as you rightly remember. I watched in anguish as a poor mother and a number of nurses tried to wrangle her young daughter into the room that you were destined to be in next. While her screams pierced through the waiting room and echoed down the vast hallways, I looked over at you with a fake smile spread across my face in an attempt to reassure you. You continued playing without complaint even though you most likely felt like you were on death row. Once it was your turn and the girl (who consistently kept screaming as they were walking away, God love the poor mother who clearly needed a glass of wine by then) was gone, you bravely marched in, greeting the numerous nurses and doctors as you went in.
And you rocked it. Bravely.
William, I don’t want to ever hear again that you aren’t brave, because you are. You may be the more sensitive, kinder, and softer of the three, but it does not mean you are not brave or strong. And don’t ever let anyone ever tell you different.
You are William the Strong.
You are William the Conqueror.
You are William the Brave.
Happy birthday dear boy. Keep smiling, never stop being you, and maybe give yourself a little more credit.
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