There's no one in the world quite like my son, Jarvis Danger. You heard that right. That's what happens when your parents are young and rely on their literal, lying in bed dreams to help aid the naming of their offspring.
We drove to Wal-mart in a nervous rush to buy pregnancy tests, and in the parking lot Hugh shouted into my laughing, open mouth "Baby, if you're in there, I love you!" And then he dreamed we had a son whose middle name was Danger, and instead of laughing we thought, yes. That could work. I picked Jarvis for a minor character in the Anne of Green Gables books, and realized it meant "Skilled with a Spear." Armed and dangerous but...with what?
With wit. With creativity. With a stubborn will. My first clue that we were in for an adventure came with the onset of labor, a dramatic event worthy of one of those silly, unrealistic television births. A contraction so hard that it woke me up, and as I sat up my water broke. Within 5.5 hours my boy was born. Jarvis distinguished himself as remarkable just moment after his birth, when he somehow took his little mummy hands and laced his fingers together as if in prayer. In a few months he began to vocalize with growls and rolling R's....he could do this for hours. And then the words came, and alter-egos, and the flood of ideas.
From about age three through five, Jarvis was never Jarvis. He was Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear. He went through a long phase of just being a dog. We actually bought him a dog collar and a bone to carry in his mouth, and he ran around barking constantly.
Jarvis would convince people that we had pet ducks at home. He'd describe movies in detail that would cause the person listening to exclaim, "I've never heard of this." And we'd have to tell them the movie does in fact exist, but right now the only place to see it was Jarvis's mind. First came the movies, then the marketing, then the video games, and then he branched off into comics and a few abandoned stories. His creativity is ceaseless and times, exhausting, But it leaves you with no doubt that his aim is true. He has had exactly one aspiration his entire life, and that is to "drop out of college and go to film school."
Jarvis and I had a rough road. Some people call the firstborn the "pancake kid." You ruin the first one. I look back and I see a perfect, and I mean perfect child, that I frustrated with unrealistic expectations. People always said to watch out when the house was too quiet, it meant the kid was up to something. I'd wander through the apartment, nervously wondering what mischief he'd be into and find him curled up in a rocking chair, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to his stuffed dog, and listening to classical music. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to take it very easy on this precious child, and stop projecting my fears of my own failure on to him. We would have had an easier time.
Jarvis knows when something is a load of garbage, and he'll have no part in it. He asked me to stop buying him character toothbrushes when he was about 9 years old because he objected to the wording on the package. "I like Snoopy Mom, but he does not make brushing fun."
Sometime's he'll surprise me with his hugs and tenderness, which he rarely shows to anyone other than his baby brother and pets. But I am reminded of the little boy who slept in my bed and rubbed my back. Once upon a time, we were the best of friends. And I try to steal those moments when I can, for they are few and far between.
Jarvis is a good boy. A complicated, beautiful, intelligent boy. Who too soon will be a man. Already he's texting his friends 2000 messages in one month, creating internet memes, reading voraciously. But somehow, I don't regret leaving the younger stage behind. It's fun having a kid you can text. Who can help you run errands, and who understands your jokes. Who sees when you can't take another minute and grabs a broom and gets to work.
My son is 12 today. 12 years ago I pushed for an hour and a half, expecting to see a girl placed into my arms and yet thrilling when told I had a son. I cried out "My baby! My baby" over and over, half-mad with love for this beautiful, incredible person. There's no obsession like the feeling you have for your first born. The first week I wept, because I knew he would change and I would never, ever truly remember these sounds, the contortions of his face. He would grow, and all these things would be lost to time. I cried the bone-shaking cries of grief over this. And yet today, I can't be sad. I like him too much right now, just as he is.
Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy.