Seven years ago today, this baby made his way into my arms and completed our family. He has been, every day of his life, full of joy and happiness and candor and love. He is a melter of hearts, a holder of hands, a snuggler extraordinaire with an openness and friendliness the likes of which I have never witnessed. He is the worst at being mean or mad or angry. It’s simply not in his nature.
For seven years, he’s made all of us kinder people. Because it’s really, really hard to be nasty or angry or grumpy when you’ve got this guy around.
I’m so grateful for you, Quinn.
When I first sat down to write this letter, I initially thought that nothing had really changed from last year when I wrote about how happy and loving and kind you are. But then I realized that is ridiculous — we’ve adventured across Europe this past year! We spent your 6th birthday in Italy, then visited Paris, Stuttgart, Chamonix, and Ireland. And we took a two-week trip back to America last summer. You are officially a pro-traveler, needing no assistance whatsoever in airports, train stations, or planes. You know the drill, you carry your own bags, you’re basically like traveling with another adult. You love the adventures and SO MUCH has changed. The thing that hasn’t changed is your response to all of it. No matter what we do or where we go, you love everything. You’re happy to be there and see new things and learn new words and try new foods and meet new people.
You are confident in your joy, too, and you think nothing of talking to friends and strangers alike. It never occurs to you to be embarrassed by your own enthusiasm or to hold back your feelings. It is so fun to see you doing the things you love because you love them with your whole heart and voice and body. Whatever it is you’re doing, you are DOING it. With everything you’ve got. Like playing the part of the fire in your school play about the Great Fire of London. You were IN it. It was awesome.
Even as you’ve grown up in so many other ways, your persistent happiness and enthusiasm for everything has not wavered even a little bit. I hope so much that holds fast for, basically, ever. Your genuine belief that life is good makes life good, not just for you but for everyone around you. You make your dad and I and your brothers and your sister happy. While writing this letter, I asked your siblings what their favorite thing about you is, and that’s what Bridget said right away — Quinn spreads happiness wherever he goes. Let me right now just thank you for that. Most of us need it more than we realize, and you always bring the happy.
You love animals even more than you love people. And you love people A LOT. But man, put you near a dog or a cat or a horse or…a lamb…and you light right up. It’s hard to say what’s cuter — the animal you love or your glee over having an animal around to love on.
I have to also address the elephant in the room, though, and say you also bring some toxic fumes wherever you go. This is proof that I’ve been parenting boys for a while now, because I’m about to talk about farts, but MAN, you stink. (This was the first thing Owen said when I asked him about you, but don’t worry, I made him think of a nice thing too!) In a house with plenty of sources of weird smelliness, you have earned a well-deserved reputation for delivering room-clearing whizzpoppers. And you think that is hysterical. I think we need to examine your diet. Cause if you’re this stinky now, I shudder to think about your teenage years.
This past year you’ve come along at school remarkably well. Your handwriting is better than both your brothers’. You love math and you read beautifully. And your teacher said you’re always helpful, volunteering to assist her in any way you can. That makes me prouder of you than any other part of your school report; I love that you’re a helper. In fact, that is the exact thing that Gabe immediately said he loves most about you: Quinn is always the first one to help if you need it. That is a pretty amazing thing to be known for.
This year you have also physically grown up so much. You’re tall and skinny, no more baby chubbiness hanging on to let me pretend you’re still little. Even when I try to pretend you still need me to help you out, you prove me wrong. Like when we ran a 5K last fall and I told your dad I’d hang back and run with you since you’d be slow. And then I spent 3.2 miles trying to keep up and finally realizing I would not be able to, and then watching from 200 yards back as you sprinted across the finish line having completed the 5K in under 30 minutes.
Or when we went skiing in January and after two days of lessons, I watched as you whizzed past me on your way down the mountain, turns and stops under control and pure joy on your face.
Or when we go to the barn for riding and you muck out stalls, snuggle and hug and kiss these huge animals without a fear in your body, then you climb up joyfully and with full confidence and canter away across the school.
This was the thing Owen said about you — that even though you’re the youngest and the smallest person in our family, you never let that hold you back from doing whatever it is we’re all doing. Even when something is hard, you keep trying and you don’t give up. Coming from your brother Owen, the actual KING of persistence and determination, that is high praise indeed.
As for your Dad and I, well there is no way we could narrow down what we love about you to one single thing. We love that you announce “Group Hug” at least once every day and make us all get in it, and that no one in this house would dare refuse. We love that you occasionally ask everyone at the dinner table to “talk about how they’re feeling” and then everyone does and doesn’t complain about it.
We love that you bring a smile to every situation. We love that you are full of love. We love that you made our family complete. We just love you, top to bottom and every bit in between.
Happy 7th birthday! Never, ever change, my baby boy.