The Auntie Diaries: Happy Birth Day, Aiden!

Dear Aiden,

It’s your Birth Day today.  For reasons beyond my understanding this is not technically your “first birthday”.  Even though it really is.  You were born on the most perfect day.  At around one in the morning your dad sent me a message saying they were on the way to the hospital because you were finally ready to see the world.

I got the message from your daddy and probably responded with a “afhoighyerhjans” because I am always very coherent in the wee hours of the morning.  What I meant by “afhoighyerhjans” is that I said a prayer for you to begin your life happy and healthy.  I laid awake breathing in the scent of summer rain.  I wondered when you would take your first breath.  I wondered if you’d be lucky enough to catch the same scent of rain.  All night long I awoke to the steady tap of rain dripping from gutters.  Each time, I checked to see if there was a message proclaiming your arrival.  The veil of night gave way to morning sun and the rain slowed to a mist.

At 6:59 am, your mom ushered you into the world.  Your daddy called me a little while later to tell me you were healthy and that your mommy birthed you naturally.  She is a strong woman, your mom, a fact you will surely appreciate many times in your life.

I came to meet you this afternoon.  You were asleep and kept flinging your blanket off.  Swaddling is not for you, almost like you’ve been cooped up too long and just want to stretch out.  Your mom wasn’t wearing a stitch of make-up and her hair was pulled up with curls escaping here and there.  She looked beautiful and happy with you by her side.

You are surrounded by people who love you and I thought I’d give you a heads up on some of us.  Your daddy knows everything about cars and will teach you as you grow up.  Your mommy is selfless, always putting her family before herself.  Your brother is awesome at kicking a soccer ball and I imagine the two of you playing many games together.  In case you need a laugh, your brother does a side-splitting impression of a duck.

Your Uncle Terry knows everything about sports.  He is convinced kids don’t like him, but you two will get along perfectly, especially if you root for the Chargers.  As for me, I love to read and write.  You’ll live among piles of books upon books upon books.  When you’re a little bigger we will go to the park to look at bugs, dig in the dirt, zip down the slide, and talk about all the things we see.

It’s going to be a great life, Aiden, full of joy, full of love.  Happy Birth Day, sweet nephew of mine.

Love,

Auntie Alicia

Robot Teacher

Years ago when my little heart was all aflutter, and not in the good way, I had to wear a heart monitor to school.  I did my best to cover up all the receptors stickied to my chest, but the wires hanging down from the monitor were harder to keep tucked away.  I didn’t want to alarm my little students, so I went about the day teaching while my heart ticked away on the monitor.  A couple of kids noticed the wires and asked what they were.  I pacified them with simple answers like “wires” or “oh, nothing” and kept on teaching.  These dismissive answers did not satisfy Ethan.

Ethan was a stick of a boy with a heart of gold.  He was quiet and thought carefully before he spoke.  In a small voice he questioned what the inside of a chrysalis looked like when a caterpillar is becoming a butterfly.  Another day he asked me how much gravity weighed.  He was the kind of kid who lost a tooth and then looked at it through a magnifying glass to see what teeth were made of.  So, when he saw wires sticking out from under my shirt, our conversation went something like this:

“Mrs. McCauley, what are those?”

“Wires.”

“Wires to what?”

“Ethan, it’s really nothing.”

“Wires don’t usually go to nothing.  What do they connect to?”

“Can we talk about this later, Ethan?”

I’d hoped he’d forget all about it, but, no, not Ethan.  Later that day, as I crouched down, helping another student, Ethan sidled up next to me, fingering the wires.  He gave them a gentle tug and was shocked to discover they were attached to me.  I didn’t say a word, smiling because I could see his wheels turning.

The next morning as I prepared for the day in the quiet of the classroom Ethan arrived insistent on knowing what these wires were for.

“Mrs. McCauley, what are those wires?  Where do they go?”

Here’s where I got creative and cemented this kid’s future need for therapy.

“Well, Ethan, I’m a robot and my wires are coming loose.  I have to go in to get repaired.”

“You’re not a robot…are you?”

Leaning down so we were face to face, in my most staccato robot voice, I replied

“I am robot 413 in need of repair.  Do you have any tools?”

Ethan stared at me wide-eyed, jaw agape.  Other students filed in, ending our conversation.  As the day went on, I answered all of Ethan’s questions in a quiet robotic tone.

As the last kid hurried out the door, I dialed Ethan’s mom.  I explained the real reason for the monitor and then told her about the joke I’d played on Ethan.  Her sense of humor was as twisted as mine and, to my delight, she played along!  The rest of my conversations with Ethan that year were peppered with robot talk and more than once I saw Ethan checking for loose wires.

Today I sat in the cardiologist’s office, dismayed to be on this road again.  Dismayed to add another EKG to the stack.  Dismayed at the idea of going on heart medication again.  Dismayed at the fact that I have to wear a heart monitor for a couple of days.  Terry, always trying to make me feel better, halted my grumblings by pointing out one bright spot.

“Well, at least you might get to convince another kid you’re a robot.”