Sometimes when it’s the second child who hits a milestone it doesn’t get marked properly, and it’s my second born’s life’s work to ensure that this injustice does not happen to him. So here’s Cathal’s tenth birthday post because Ciarán got one and it’s only fair. (Makes diary note for June 2023 for Laoise).
Cathal is Ten
I remember the first time I saw you so well. I knew we’d be meeting you that day, and we knew you’d be a boy, but we hadn’t told anyone else, it was our special secret. I worried beforehand how we would bond, but as I held you close to my chest moments after your birth I whispered to your Dad “he’s perfect”. And you are.
Around 9am that Tuesday morning we saw those big brown eyes of yours for the first time. I’d never seen a brown-eyed newborn before, but yours came out deep and brown and stayed that way.
The afternoon that you were born I remember lying in the hospital bed just gazing at you. Your big brother came to visit and chatted loudly at you and held you tight, you took it in your stride.
We brought you home, a family of four now. You fitted right in, kicking on the floor surrounded by toys, smiling back at us. You watched your brother and soon wanted in on the action. You used all your energy keeping up with him.
You loved your hugs and snuggles, and kept close. At parties you’d sit on my knee taking it all in until the last half an hour when you’d gotten the lie of the land and then you’d enthusiastically join in the mayhem. Like on our sun holiday when you weren’t yet two, you splashed at the side of the pool cautiously until the last couple of days. You’d do it, but on your own terms, when you were ready. You’re still the same, you’ll assess a situation and do it your way.
As parents do I’ll say that I can’t believe you’re ten. Turning ten is huge, but you keep telling me that it’s not, that double digits is no big deal. And yet, you’re keen to dream up a “good” birthday gift to ask for. Full of contradictions that make perfect sense to you. We both know it’s your tradition to ask for O’Neills attire, county or club.
You’re ten. You sing and hum to yourself as you keep busy. You have more questions than anyone I’ve ever met, and car journeys are your favourite place to ask them. You learn from your questions and take all the information in. You’re funny and kind, you live for sport. Your hurl is an extension of your body and you come to life on the pitch, darting up and down, spiriting the sliotar out of rucks with a triumphant flair.
You love helping me cook, and chop fruit and vegetables better than I do. You are keen to eat more vegetables but you just don’t like the taste, you’ll get there.
I am so proud of you. I watch you chatting to your friends and teammates, see your confidence. I watch you play sport, with a hurl in your hand you are at your best, it’s your happy place. You’re very interested in nature, in growing and planting and understanding how that works. Granny knows that if she gives us plants it’s you that she needs to give the care instructions to, the rest of us are lost causes.
You have a big heart, you notice things that affect others (but sometimes choose to ignore them!) and you are very tuned in to fairness. You’re not a fan of schoolwork but really enjoy building and engineering, you think that one day you might be an engineer or architect. You’re a good kid but no angel, no fan of going to bed, and a minor level sibling tormentor.
From the day I met you you captivated me.
Happy tenth birthday my brown-eyed-boy.
You make me so proud.