Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mr. Dylan Starts Kindergarten

My nephew, who I still picture as the chubby baby who used to get a kick out of being repeatedly "attacked" by one of my stuffed sheepdog toys while he sat on my bed, giggling and surrounded by piles of my blankets and bed pillows, began kindergarten today. Kindergarten! My heart! My little "Mr. Dylan!" My older brother emailed me a photo of his boarding the bus, and as I looked at it, I joined countless other parents and family members who this week find themselves exclaiming "Kindergarten!? How is that possible!?"

Dylan's arrival was especially exciting for me since I'd been afraid I'd miss it: I was scheduled to move out of state soon for my graduate school internship and practicum and thought maybe he'd be late. Instead, he arrived two weeks early, and I, then his only aunt, quickly filled the blog I kept then with nephew-related photos and updates. It was such a happy time.
The day of his birth was only the second time I'd ever seen my older brother cry, was the first time I'd seen a woman so close to labor, was the day I got to see my own "baby" brother (in the ball cap below) become an uncle, and was the happiest I remember my brothers and I ever being for each other. The shot below captures us all in one of our sweetest moments together. It is one of my favorite family photos.
I took tons of pictures after Dylan was born, left the hospital to go back to my parents' house--my parents were now grandparents?!!--with my mom to make cupcakes for my family and for the maternity ward staff while she called family and friends to let them know Dylan had safely arrived, worked in my pink and white garden for a little while--and Dylan, the afternoon of your birth was a gorgeous one--and then went back to the hospital to drop off the cupcakes and visit my nephew and his parents some more. I remember saying to my mom how strange it was that we had all just "met" Dylan and just instantly loved him so much, and she said, "Well, of course," but it was surprising to me, the depth of this new love.
That first night, I gave Dylan his first present from me: A bib I'd ordered ahead of time that read "Aunt Val Loves Me." My older brother and my sister-in-law kept telling everyone, "Let Val hold him. She's moving soon and won't get to see him for awhile." The last time I held little Dylan before I moved for my internship, my mom watched and said, "You're trying to memorize his face," and it made me cry. She was right. And when I saw Dylan again months later, he looked completely different to me: Chubby and bundled up in a snowsuit, and he was shy around me and didn't want me to hold him. That was hard. I loved the little guy and was so tickled to see him again, and he didn't know me at all. In time, we bonded again, though, and he became my "Mr. Dylan!" and since he couldn't pronounce "Aunt Val," I became his "Annie Owl." Everyone would laugh and melt when he'd say that, and I wish no one had ever corrected him.
Today my "Mr. Dylan" started Kindergarten, then, and while I couldn't be there, he was on my mind all day. I hope that when his little "First Day of School" package from me reaches him, it finds him happy and having fun and making new friends. (My mom called while I was typing that line, actually, to report that he did indeed have a fun first day.)   I love you, Mr. Dylan, and even if I live far away and have to be your pen pal, I will remain, forever and always, your "Annie Owl."


Anonymous said...

I came on to your blog to vote for Stuffed (mission accomplished, please send my love!) and was "sucked in" to your world :) Your story of meeting Dylan is so beautiful... I wasn't a part of your family at that point, so I didn't truly realize the beauty and love of Dylan's first days--of course, I understand them now :) So thank you for that, it was so beautiful! Hope

Val said...

Oh, Hope! I know what you mean, but you've always been a part of our family. And I remember your coming over to the house with a big basket of gifts for Dylan and the new grandparents, and some of my favorite "little Dylan" moments are of you and him. :) I remember the first time you guys saw each other--we were all sitting in the dining room one night...I think maybe around the time you moved to Pittsburgh? And Dylan was so little and just kept staring and STARING at you. :) It was so funny, like you were hypnotizing him. :) His eyes were just huge and wouldn't look away from you. :) You guys have always had a neat bond with each other, no matter which day you met. :)