Happy Birthday Oliver

Today the last two members of my family both celebrated birthdays. Among my large family, this is the only occurrence of shared birthdays, and interestingly, they happened at the end of the year, creating a big finish. So I can focus on each person, I’m writing two blog posts today. 

This is my grandson Oliver’s birthday post. 

After winter weather moved in yesterday, I was unsure whether Oliver and I would get to enjoy our birthday lunch and shopping trip today. Although the sun was bright, helping to clear the roads of their icy layer, the temperature never rose above 14 degrees. My son and daughter-in-law and I discussed the situation via text messaging, and agreed the roads were safe. The birthday outing was on! 

Before meeting Megan in Joplin, to pick up Oliver, I looked up his name. 

“Oliver, you are learning to develop patience, and discovering that perseverance is a trait worth cultivating. You are good at absorbing knowledge and retain it well. While you can be charming or play it cool, most often you are a mixture of both. People don’t realize that you tend to hold things inside and suffer in silence until you can’t remain silent any longer, then you may express yourself strongly. 

You desire to inspire and lead, to control what others do. You are giving, courageous and bold, action oriented, energetic and strong willed. You truly want to make a difference in the world, and this attitude draws you to cultural interests, politics, social issues, and the cultivation of your creative talents.

I see the truth in these words about this handsome, active boy, who turned nine today. Patience hasn’t been a word I have associated with Oliver. And yet…I have seen this child grow and change so much this past year. He is learning that sometimes you go after what you want. And sometimes, you wait and the perfect opportunity arises. He is incredibly bright, remembering well what he learns. And most definitely Oliver can turn on the charm and dazzle people with his big smile. Or he can hold back, coolly appraising others or situations, weighing options before he acts. 

The section about holding things inside is true as well, something I’ve come to understand about Oliver recently. He is more shy and reserved than people at first realize. This sensitive boy has come to trust me, and with that trust, he has opened his beautiful heart and shared more about how he thinks and what he feels. New people, especially, or being in a crowd of strangers, can make him feel uncomfortable and less likely to engage with others. I appreciate Oliver’s honesty. 

When we are together, such as we were today, I don’t make him talk to people that he doesn’t know. If he wants to engage or answer a question a well meaning store associate or waitress asks, that’s totally up to him. I’m finding that if I will talk to the new person first, keeping a friendly and casual conversation going, Oliver is much more likely to join in on his own, and feel good about that. Everyone is unique. I’m grateful for this grandson’s perspectives and gifts and how he relates to the world. 

Today we enjoyed lunch at IHOP, where Oliver put away a stack of pancakes. We chatted about a broad range of topics. Rather than spend his birthday cash all on toys or on one big item, he asked if we could go to the mall. There is a place set up there, with cords and pulleys and trampolines, where the adventurous can bounce and somersault and leap high into the air. That’s what Oliver most wanted to do. 

And that is so like this energetic boy. He loves to move…run, climb, jump, do tricks…and he likes having an attentive and appreciative audience! Courageous, bold and action oriented all describe Oliver well. He used some of his birthday money to rig up and jump for 10 minutes, that infectious grin on his face, his athletic form spinning effortlessly into somersaults and back flips. I cheered and took pics and video, capturing his fun, capturing Oliver, and who he is at this moment. 

I have no doubt this boy will become a leader of others or a creator of big ideas. As I drove him home, he examined the one toy that he purchased at the mall…a hovering UFO type craft that is controlled with hand movements…and allowed his imagination to spark, thinking up possible inventions. Someday this kid, who is learning to channel his energy in remarkable ways, will come up with a million dollar idea that benefits many. I will enjoy seeing who he becomes and what he creates as he grows up. 

Happy birthday, Oliver. I love you so much! 

Happy Birthday Fox

Today the last two members of my family both celebrated birthdays. Among my large family, this is the only occurrence of shared birthdays, and interestingly, they happened at the end of the year, creating a big finish. So I can focus on each person, I’m writing two blog posts today. 

This is the birthday post for my nephew Fox. 

Fox, center of pic. 

Today my brother’s younger son entered his teens. This is a big birthday, the milestone marking the leaving behind of childhood and the approach of adulthood. As all of us who have lived through these years know, being a teenager can be a turbulent time, full of changes and realizations, love and angst, questions and figuring things out. 

I think this young man can handle the journey ahead, and handle it beautifully. 

I looked up Fox’s name. 

“Fox, you are kind, home-loving, hospitable and friendly. Since you take responsibility well, you are a good organizer of events, social affairs and life itself. Compassion for others is an outstanding trait that you possess. In fact, you have a heart full of love, which will guide you in connecting with and helping others.  Your compassion, paired with creativity, might lead you toward being an artist, a musician, an actor, a teacher or a nurse. 

Your desires can sometimes be contradictory. You are practical, yet idealistic and intuitive; capable of selfless devotion to someone you love, yet look to receive payback. You are honest, methodical and believe in law, system and order. You are making a difference in the world, just by being you. 

I don’t get to spend much time with my nephew. But I know the words above ring true for Fox. He is compassionate and has a heart full of love, which is especially evident when he is with his family. Like many kids of his generation, he lives harmoniously in a big blended family, spending time with both sets of parents and his brothers and sister, fulfilling his role as son, younger brother, older brother and grandson. 

Fox is incredibly intelligent, doing well in school. Combine that intelligence with his compassion toward others and his creative and intuitive abilities and there are endless possibilities and opportunities ahead for this young man. That is the great beauty of being a teen. There is time to explore many paths to see which one feels right, which one brings joy and a sense of purpose. 

Fox, may you enjoy the coming years as you make important decisions about schooling, your career and your life. Have fun. Love. Play. Engage in life fully. You truly are making a difference in the world, just by being who you are. 

And know I am watching you and cheering for you, and journeying alongside. Happy birthday, Fox. I love you! 

Photo by his mom, Stephany Christensen.