They’re not twins, and the event wasn’t planned, but Superhero 1 and Superhero 2 share the same birthday.
People ask us all the time how we managed to deliver two babies on the same date exactly three years apart.
Count back nine months from April 4 and you’ll see that July 4th is an extremely important holiday in our home.
Fireworks outside, fireworks inside. Just call us patriotic.
We may have also made the mistake of telling Superhero 1 he could have “his baby” when he turned 3.
We just didn’t realize that God would hold us to our word EXACTLY when Super-Spouse was stuck on a broken-down plane in Germany and my water broke in the United States.
In the booth of a TGI Fridays.
While singing “Happy Birthday” to the boy who got a baby as his gift.
(Thank you, waitress at TGI Fridays, for rushing my order on that burger when I refused to leave the establishment without my lunch. We hope the generous tip my daddy offered as he helped wrap me in a trash bag and waddle me to the car made up for the inordinate amount of placenta we left at Table 9. Don’t worry. We will never, ever, ever be back again.)
For the first seven years of shared birthdays, we totally got away with the one-and-done party-cake-celebration fiesta. In fact, the boys didn’t even notice that most humans got to celebrate their own birthdays.
Superhero 2 once attended a party of a friend from school, and when he realized that only one child was being celebrated, asked why his brother wasn’t helping blow out the candles on the cake, too.
I almost zip tied the mouth of the kid who ruined our lives forever when he told him that he and his brother got their OWN parties.
Because they were born in different months. On different days. And therefore got an entire day to themselves.
Thanks for ruining my half-the-price, half-the-stress, one-and-done perfect life, kid. I’ll be sure to send you a memo about Santa Claus next Christmas.
So last year, for the first time, the boys asked if they could hold separate celebrations. We told them they could choose either a gift, a party or an experience, but not all. A party or an experience would BE the gift, the gift would BE the party.
Ain’t no one got the budget for more than one when you have two boys celebrating on the same day.
This year, Superhero 1, who is introverted and brief and has the social skills of his father (God bless you, baby — but it’s easier to carry on a conversation with a door knob), chose a Mama-son date at a local amusement park with his best friend and his mama. Grandma and Pop graciously kept the youngers for the day, and the four of us had a ball riding roller coasters and downing overpriced theme park food (which tasted much better after walking seven miles around the park throughout the day, even if we did observe the food inspector giving the employees a failing grade for not maintaining the proper temperature of the condiment bar) and watching misbehaving teenagers get thrown from amusement park grounds. (But security, if you take 30 minutes to show up when there’s a bigger issue at stake than two boys who hopped off a ride and hid in the haunted mansion, we will ALL be dead. Get a Segway. Love, The People Who Waited An Hour In Line While You Apparently Stopped for Ice Cream On Your Way to the Scene)
I seriously had THE BEST day laughing with and cherishing one-on-one time with this boy who is sometimes so disciplined and motivated and mature that I forget he’s only 12. (Congratulations, Superhero 1, for being the only member of our family who completed the entire Whole 30 without a single cheat. We won’t count the scoop of butter from the hibachi grill man who didn’t hear you when you asked for that salmon dry. At least he scooped it with knife-throwing pizazz.)
On a daily basis, this responsible and reliable superhero wakes up 30 minutes before the other kids so he can run on the treadmill, complete all his morning chores, pack the school lunches and help get Superhero 4 ready for therapy (partly because he adores Superhero 4 and is naturally kind and helpful and organized, and partly because he considers “on time” to be “late,” and if we’re not out the door in time to be the first ones in the school drop-off line, he kind of has a heart attack).
With his always-getting-better cooking skills (but not so great re-alphabetizing-the-spices-when-he-is-done-with-them skills), this once chef-wannabe completes all the food prep for the week every Saturday and prepares dinner for the family every Monday and Wednesday. And I don’t mean macaroni.
This month, we’ve enjoyed roasted spaghetti squash with kale and sundried tomato filling, lemon-garlic salmon in his own special recipe sauce, stuffed red peppers and Mediterranean tuna salad in homemade, dairy-free dressing, just to name a few. And any more, I’m not even in the kitchen when this little man cooks. I just sit down to a fresh, hot meal.
(Super-Spouse, good news! We may not have any children willing to wipe our booties in our old age, but I think we found one who will at least feed us!)
Although he once wanted to be a chef and own a gourmet seafood truck, this boy who loves spending time in the kitchen and even recently started his own food prep business has decided, with his love for bones and science, he would rather be an orthopedic surgeon who makes good food as a hobby. That way, he told us, he could actually afford to eat the crab, lobster and seafood he likes to cook. ;)
At school, this motivated middle schooler who told me he “really needed to get his grades back up” when one dropped to a 96 plays in the band (gotta love trumpet practice pre-6 a.m.), runs cross country (he won his team’s “Grit Award” for the season, and he and I are training for a half marathon together in June), problem solves with Odyssey of the Mind (with his amazing grandpa as the please-dear-Lord-coach-so-I-don’t-have-to coach) and participates in the Beta Club. He still takes guitar lessons (and melts my heart when he worships in his room), and he still volunteers in the 3-year-old room at church, where truly, he leads and conveys the Bible stories better than I do. His strong but quiet faith is so special, and when it comes to working with small children, he just has a gift.
Although he’s gotten a little sassy, bossy and moody in his last pre-teen year (I love you, buddy — you know we’re all a little spicy in this house, especially when one unnamed child is trying to parent all the rest ;)), and although he sometimes fights with Superhero 2 like it’s his job, this Type A rule follower (I love me some KIN!) has been such a delight and a joy. It might require an Act of God to get him to speak in sentences longer than three words, and he may show NO emotion, well, EVER, but when he does, the conversation is just precious.
I might cry that this is my last year without a teenager in the house, but I can’t cry about the lovely young man this boy has become. I am so, so grateful for him, and I cannot even fathom what our lives would look like without him.
Or his brother, who is the total polar opposite.
While Superhero 1 chose a birthday celebration with one friend, Superhero 2, who is extroverted and chatty and loves being around people 23 out of 24 hours a day, chose a party.
We originally told him he could only invite 10 people. Because he wanted to serve dinner and play in the dark for 17 hours, and after watching how MY boys eat, I didn’t think we could afford dinner for more than 10 kids without selling my left kidney. Or keep more than 10 alive in the dark in the back yard without some kind of assistance (namely a tranquilizer gun).
When he found out there was a limit on the number of children Mom and Dad could feed and supervise around fire, he asked if we could trade in the dinner for a s’mores and trail mix bar and invite entire families instead.
That way, he could invite a classroom full of his closest friends. And all THEIR siblings.
Which is just what he did.
Last night, our back yard was filled with sticky s’mores and bonfire smoke and the sounds of squealing third graders and their siblings racing from one side of the property to the other in attempts to capture the flag. And our little socialite, who chose the campout theme, set up the yard and planned the party himself, glowed like the neon necklace that graced his neck.
What’s more, he did it for a cause.
This tender-hearted animal lover who wants to be a military veterinarian when he grows up (note to you, friends with pets — when my kid asks to come to your house, it’s not to visit you; it’s to see your dog), in lieu of gifts, asked for donations to the local animal shelter.
By the time we put out the fire and collected chem lights from the lawn, he had collected more than 100 pounds of dog food, enough cat food to feed an entire alley and monetary donations that would bless the up to 66 dogs that inhabit this facility every summer.
He can’t wait to deliver his goodies to the shelter today, where he is hoping and praying he can stay and play with each and every animal in the facility before they kick him out and go home for the day.
This superhero’s heart is so soft and his compassion so big. When others cry, he cries. When others hurt, he hurts. And “I feel so bad for x” is one of his token phrases. Although he shows less outward emotion each year as he grows, his tenderness is a gift to us all. He’s the first to fight for justice in a given situation, and he’s the first to ask why we can’t sacrifice to serve someone in need. He’s the one who suggested giving up Christmas in 2016 so we could host an orphan instead, and he’s the one who loved that girl with the sparkly extra chromosome like she was his own.
When we visited my brother and his family in Seattle, his heart bled for the homeless men and women he spotted on the street. He immediately returned to my brother’s house and marched to the local grocery store, where he bought a four-course meal and delivered it to the woman sitting outside.
He’s the one in the family who spends all his money on everyone else, and he’s the one always looking to bless others — especially those who look and act different from him.
For Christmas this year, he asked if we could bless the special education class at his school by purchasing some items for their classroom. He then collected a Santa-sized bag of board games and wish list materials. He loves those kiddos who, like two of his brothers, have “special needs” he knows are superpowers in disguise. And they, in turn, have invited him to be their cheerleader at their upcoming Junior Special Olympics games.
But let’s not pretend like this sweet boy is all sugar and spice. He fights with Superhero 1 like a professional, and he is as stubborn as he is sweet. (This germophobe refused to eat a sandwich he packed for the zoo because his brother had grabbed it and contaminated it with his germs. We literally offered the same sandwich as his only option at every meal until, 24 hours later, he was finally hungry enough to eat it.)
And Lord help you if you expect him to admit he’s wrong.
But boy, does he have a sense of humor (joke books and puns are this boy’s jam), and wow, is he AMBITIOUS.
This voracious reader set a goal to beat the all-time third grade record for Reading Counts points. Only when he asked his teacher and the librarian, he discovered that no one had ever documented the record number.
So he instead set a goal to beat himself.
Although he is only required to earn 30 points per quarter, this bookworm logged 213 — and stayed up until 1 a.m. reading the night before the last day of test taking to ensure he could beat his total from the previous quarter.
This dedicated little guy set a goal for himself when he started martial arts to earn his black belt by the time he was 10.
In February, he tested and received his brown belt, and, if he continues to train hard this year, may just turn black before 10. (I only have to sit through exactly 47,204 more forms to get there.)
As a third grader, the youngest grade eligible, he participated in his first ever Odyssey of the Mind team. His team, which included four other third graders with the sweetest spirits and hearts, built a vehicle, wrote a script, solved spontaneous problems and worked so hard that, at the regional competition, they placed second, and at the state competition, they placed fifth.
He enjoys piano lessons (although, let’s be honest – I think he likes eating at Grandma’s house on Thursday nights more than he likes practicing the piano for her), snuggling, salad (his all-time favorite food) and camping. And even at 9 years old, this boy is still my kiss-me-on-the-mouth, physical-touch-loving snuggler.
“Do you know what would be the best day ever, Mom?” he asked last month.
“What’s that, baby?” I replied.
“Sitting by a bonfire in a hammock at a campground reading a book snuggling. While eating s’mores.”
I just adore him.
So, to celebrate our little bonfire-lover, we held one in his honor last night.
Today, the boys asked if we could jump on the trampoline, play Monopoly, order pizza and refrain from dressing until at least noon to recover from all the birthdayness the last two days did bring.
And as most of us lay around in underwear as I add this final photo to the blog I wrote before they all woke up, chances are 100 percent we'll be making that happen.
Happy birthday, boys. We love you!