Young A at 9

Leaps & bounds

Today, nine years ago, I had the chance to have a transformative life experience for the second time. J and I went into the hospital one day, and came home the next with a new human: Young A had joined our family.

Birthing Young A was good preparation for the whirlwind it has been to be his parent, because it forced us to put aside the notion that his trajectory would resemble his older brother’s in any way. At times we have forgotten this important truth, and it has come back to bite us. Of course Young A is his own person.

Young A’s early childhood was influenced by my illness. He was three when I was first diagnosed, four and five when I went through my metastases. He’s always ready to cheer my good scan results, but I always wonder how that early experience with having a parent be ill has affected him. I’m glad I’ve been able to come back from that brink, and show him a durable response to treatment.

Following our recent move, our family was somewhat divided, with J and Young J pretty much uniformly positive about it, and with Young A and me feeling a bit less excited and more nostalgic for our old home, our old lives, our old friends. Young J has generally had an easier time adjusting to his new school and routines. I was genuinely worried about Young A and his social life, for a bit.

Then came his birthday. Because half of our home is under construction, and will be for what feels like the foreseeable future (much to Young A’s chagrin), we couldn’t host the sleepover he very much wanted to have. The upheaval in our home also kept us from planning any sort of celebration for his birthday, until it hit us that the day was quickly arriving, and it was a day off school, and we had to at least try to make something happen for him. I asked Young A, with some trepidation, to make a list of kids to invite. I was so pleased when he came up with six names. I was even more pleased when four of those kids were available for a party today, even though we waited until the last possible moment to make our plans.

This couldn’t have worked in Brooklyn, I kept thinking to myself, as I followed the kids around the indoor trampoline park. Back in Brooklyn, a place like that on a day off school would have been totally overrun with kids. And Young A’s friends would have been booked for weeks already. And yet here we are, living in a new place, and it couldn’t have been easier. Including Young A and Young J, we had six children at the party, easily transported in our two non-minivan vehicles from bouncing to pizza.

What’s more, when, at one moment, highly-strung Young A became upset at another kid’s interpretation of the rules of dodge ball (there basically were no rules), we saw his friends prop him up. They asked what was wrong, they redirected him someplace else, and refused to let his frustration spoil his day.

Seeing what sweet new friends Young A has surrounded himself with did my soul a lot of good. I’m no longer worried about him in the way I had been. He’s clearly making his own path in our new home — and seeing this happen gives me the peace of mind that is so dear to a parent.