Dec 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Pictures (and Five Years)

Today is Quinn’s 14th birthday. It’s pretty fabulous for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being; I have managed to raise a child to teenagehood.  And he’s a pretty great kid at that.

But as I have manically bought presents, arranged entertainment, organized cupcakes and lunch to be delivered to him at school... I have reflected on the birthdays past.

It started when my BFF posted this:  We still speak of the most epic birthday bash ever. Happiest birthday wishes & the biggest hugs & most love ever to our little Quinny.

She is speaking, of course, about Quinnapalooza.  When Quinn was eight, he entered an essay contest for Nickelodeon Universe’s Ultimate Birthday Party. You can read about it here: Quinnapalooza

Part of me still can’t believe he won. Out of 1,500 applicants, they chose him. I remember asking Nickelodeon’s head of marketing why they chose Quinn. I figured they had to have gotten essays from kids who were dying from some horrible disease, or kids who had never had a birthday party because their families were poor. Why Quinn?  Her answer?

Because he didn’t want to win it for him. He wanted to win it for all the kids he never got to invite to his other birthday parties.

Partying with 99 Friends

Quinn was the King of Third Grade for three whole months and then we moved to Michigan. Things got pretty bumpy there for a while.  He went from having an amazing group of friends and protectors to having, well, no one really.

When Quinn started 7th grade, there was a day when he sat down at a lunch table, and everyone got up and left. One girl who he had known from his previous elementary school saw him, and she left her table of friends and sat with him, so he didn’t have to eat his lunch alone. I remember him telling me that story and my heart breaking into a million pieces. 7th grade was hard for both mother and son.

This year, things are so different. Quinn has friends. Good friends. Friends he made all on his own. He even has a best friend, Ryon, who we want to adopt, we like him so much. So, for Quinn’s birthday, we brought in Jimmy John’s and cupcakes to surprise his friends.

King for the day
It’s hard to explain – the moms who have gone through this heartbreak will get it, and the moms who haven’t, won’t – but my heart swelled when I saw Quinn sitting at a table with a group of kids who had no idea treats were coming their way. They were there because they’re friends, and they eat together. I wanted to hug each one of them.

And then... the girl who had sat with Quinn when he was alone last year came up and said, “Wow! You have the coolest parents EVER!” And Quinn offered her a sandwich and a cupcake and I had to leave before I started to cry and embarrass the crap out of my 14 year old son.

Here’s to being King again, if only for today.