This is the first in an occasional series about the people in my family. I have 4 children, but I also have a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, a brother-in-law, 2 nephews,2 ex-husbands, an ex-stepson that i still claim, and a whole host of ex-inlaws. So I figure this "Family" series will keep me busy for many blogs to come. But to start, I would like to highlight someone who is a member of my immediate family, my son Daniel. I had been thinking about doing something like this for quite awhile, but something that happened recently has led me to start this now.
Daniel is 12 years. His birthday is in June and he is almost the tallest and oldest kid in his class. He is named for 2 important people in my past - an adult friend who mentored me when I was a teen, Daniel Foley, and a priest friend who baptized all 4 of my children, Fr. Daniel Manger.
When Daniel was born, I already had 2 young children, a boy and a girl. He was my 3rd child in 4 1/2 years and I used to swear his first words would be "just a minute". I don't remember a lot about that first year except that he had colic, and for some reason wouldn't nurse during the hours of 5-8 PM. I would go in the bathroom, pump a couple of bottles of milk, hand them out the door to my (then) husband, and then he would calm down and eat. He was the first child I was completely home with, 24/7. The other 2 I had taught half days until Rachael was just shy of 1. He was my best nurser and nursed privately at bedtime until he was almost 2.
Daniel was always different. High energy. If you look up the term "hyperactive" in the dictionary, Daniel's picture is next to it. He was so sensitive to noise and people that activities like carnivals or large group gatherings were almost out of the question. Because the cutoff for starting school back then was June 1 and his birthday was June 2, I waited an extra year for him to start preschool. His first year of preschool was a nightmare. We used to joke that they had Daniel's name laminated on "the thinking chair". Since I was a teacher and had worked with kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I knew he had all the signs. My pediatrician agreed with me and helped me find a psychiatrist who would test him at age 4, even though most doctors won't refer a child until he is 6 or 7. That summer when he turned 5, we put him on medicine. The second year of preschool was a like a dream. The teachers said it was like having a different child. He enjoyed school so much more, and finally he was showing all those smarts I knew he had.
Daniel was my "baby" until he was almost 6. His younger brother, Aaron, was born only a few months before his birthday. It was hard on him at first, to share me, and on me, to not be able to devote myself to him. But he did well and adjusted.
I always tell people that I like Daniel because he is one of the few people I know who is completely happy to be himself. He likes himself, and he is okay with his place on the social ladder. His whole outlook on life is "you do your thing and I'll do mine". He has a great group of friends, all of them a little different, too. But they love him and he loves them. He is incredibly loyal. His 2 best guy buddies, by coincidence, are both very short guys and he absolutely will not tolerate anyone picking on either one of them.
Daniel loves to play video and computer games. He has a Nintendo Game Cube and a Nintendo DS (the latest, almost palmpilot version of a Gameboy). He plays "Star Wars" on the computer, as well as "Magic" cards with his cousins. He loves to read and has just asked if he can learn to play the drums (help!). He and his buddies Levi and Cain want to start a band.
Daniel is completely devoted and protective of his little brother,and this past week proved himself to be extra kind and thoughtful to my significant other's little girl, who is also 6. When she was fussed at by her big sister, Daniel took pity and played with her, even though I knew he really wanted to play video games. His one "big" souvenir of choice from our vacation was a themed "Night Sky" version of Monopoly. Interestingly enough, his other 2 major purchase were a pair of binoculars and a harmonica! He loves to ride his bike and just recently spent a week by himself in Indianapolis with his dad, helping his Papa Lee (grandpa) do much-needed yard work, and hanging out with his 2 favorite cousins, Greg and Eric. He idolizes his Uncle David, who is an adult gamer by hobby.
Of course, he's not perfect. His room is an absolute pit most of the time. He's forgetful and can get frustrated with his siblings. When I got divorced from his dad, he was the one who was annoyingly sympathetic of his father being lonely. (and no, I didn't discourage him or SAY anything. but i thought it! laugh) He loves his dad and that's okay with me. (she says grudgingly) He was the only one to spend his OWN money on a birthday present for me, a beautiful cat windchime.
One of my favorite things about Daniel is his homemade jokes. He has a real talent for it and will laugh hysterically at his own jokes, even if no one else thinks they are funny. He loves math and science and is a diligent student, asking sometimes to stay up late or get up early to finish an assignment. He loves animals and has a tender heart for all our cats.
I could go on and on (and probably already have) but I will stop here. Daniel will be entering the 6th grade this fall, junior high in his Catholic school. He will play soccer as he does every fall and spring, and is interested (yikes!) in football. He has also expressed an interest in joining his older brother Joseph's Boy Scout troop, and will become an altar server next month. I guess it is obvious, but I am incredibly proud of my son.
Here are some pictures from our trip of Daniel:
In front of the White House - the only "want to" request he made on the whole trip!
Just hanging out...waiting patiently.
With his head in a cannon (I'm so proud!).
At the Washington Memorial.
With his prized binoculars.
Dan and K.
On the water taxi.
Daniel on the USS Constellation.
I hoped you enjoyed meeting my son.