The morning of your birth, it was clear to me that June 23 was to be the big day. I began having contractions the day before—a Monday—and then the following day, my water broke shortly before my doctor’s appointment. This triggered a phone call to my friend/big sister Jan and Grandma. Grandma and Grandpa immediately got in the car and headed to Yorktown Heights, where you lived for the first year of your life, so they could babysit for Kelly. Jan was notified because we could not wait until they arrived, so Jan watched Kelly until they arrived.
Your birth was fortunately not as long as Kelly’s, but the cast was the same, including the nurse who stayed with me until I gave birth to you. I remembered that she relieved the pain both times by putting her fists in my back. My labor lasted less than twelve hours, while Kelly’s birth was almost double that.
It was rainy the day you came home, but you were not even aware of the weather. You slept the whole way home. We were greeted by Grandma, Aunt El, and some neighborhood friends.
Kelly was happy to be a big sister—for the most part. I think she may have tried to hit you once or twice, but once she realized that you were there to stay and wouldn’t take all the attention away from her, she replaced the hitting with kissing and all was well.
You grew and progressed normally. You just had one early flaw, which was your thumb, which was a permanent fixture in your mouth. Even when I would feed you it would get in the way. I remember the early feedings of cereal. We would remove the spoon from your mouth in order to give you more, and as soon as that spoon was out of your mouth, the thumb went back in, which was extremely annoying, messy, and funny. You loved baby squash and pastina.
We moved into our new house in Montville one day after your first birthday, so we waited until then to have a celebration with the family. We all settled into our house on White Oak Lane where we lived for the next sixteen years. You loved watching videos on TV, and would force me to replay whichever was the current favorite until I could stand it no longer. Some of your earliest favorites were the Sesame Street movie Follow that Bird, Pinocchio, which is why you got the “Pinn-a-doke-i-o” stuffed animal, and Peter Pan, which caused you to think you were Pocahontas. You even dressed up like her that Halloween and then for many months afterwards.
You, Kelly, and Casey loved to play mailman—drawing pictures and then delivering them to the neighbors. I think they all enjoyed your little deliveries, and you would often return home with some treats which you got in exchange for the letters.
When Casey was born, you were 2 ½ years old. But unlike Kelly, you were accustomed to having a sibling, so her arrival was not as traumatic to you as yours was to Kelly. We have videos and photos of the three of you sitting on the sofa together, with you and Kelly smothering Casey with your sloppy wet kisses.
You were thrilled when you could finally join Kelly on the school bus and take the ride to Valley View together. Casey was not as happy with the departure of her two big sisters. She even made me photograph her in tears after the two of you left together on the bus, since she wanted you and Kelly to know how sad she was to see her sisters leave.
You were very happy at Valley View. You liked most of your teachers and did well in school. Mr. Goldberg was a great principal, knowing each student by name as well as their parents. Mrs. Fisher was a strict teacher, but you left kindergarten able to read quite a bit. (foreshadowing?)
.No one will ever forget your graduation from middle school. We were all sitting in the bleachers at the high school football field. It was obvious to everyone except whoever was in charge that trouble was in the air. Dark clouds filled the sky, and the winds began to increase as the speeches began. Droplets of rain began to fall, but rather than eliminate the speeches of the Board of Education Members or principal and hand out the diplomas, the program continued as scheduled. Finally, as the wind started blowing harder and the droplets of rain increased, the announcement was made for the class to stand up, and then the ceremony was over. Everyone ran for cover and that was it.
We moved to Chapel Hill during your senior year, which was awful, I know. Chapel Hill at least was a fun town. There were all the diverse restaurants, and it was exciting being around when the Tar Heels won the NCAA tournament. It was fun watching the town growing crazier and crazier with each win. Living in Chapel Hill enabled you to meet several celebrities. We never saw Michael Jordan, but you did meet Jeff Foxworthy, the Saved by the Bell celebrities, the Jonas Brothers before their rise to fame, and John (who you saw immediately for who he was) and Elizabeth Edwards. Thus began your love of meeting and being photographed with celebrities.
Let’s fast forward. You graduated college with excellent grades, and after a year of waitressing and substitute teaching, you got your first job teaching first grade here in South Carolina–but your heart was still in New New Jersey.
You moved to New Jersey, worked a year out of my old bedroom, and finally, after three years teaching in two schools, you finally found your home as a kindergarten teacher in a small town in New Jersey. Apparently, you love the job so much that you are sad that the school year has ended.
You met a wonderful man who you married two years ago. I miss having you so near to me, but knowing you are happy makes the distance worthwhile. That is all a parent wants—success, independence, and happiness for their children.
Happy Birthday, Jamie.