Happy Birthday, My Sweet Boy

by Bill Brenner on April 21, 2010

Mood music for this post: “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon:


You entered the world on Earth Day, nine years ago. Nine years. Wow.

You were graced with a beautiful Mom and a Dad with just a few kinks in him. I would always try to hide my OCD, depression and addictive behavior from you, but I wasn’t always good at that. You didn’t seem to mind. In fact, you helped me get well.

We named you Sean Michael Brenner.

The first name is for Sean Marley and the middle name is for Michael Brenner, the uncle who left this world nearly 20 years before you were born. Sean Marley took his place as an older brother, but he died in 1996. You were destined to inherit both names.

You were a shock to my system at first. Your very presence messed with all my OCD triggers, particularly those involving neatness and controlling the clock, though I only had the illusion that I could do the latter.

But you grew on me quick.

We watched a lot of Sesame Street together. When I worked the night shift at The Eagle-Tribune, I put you in the stroller most mornings and took you on a 3-mile walk.

You gave me a fresh appreciation for all things Dr. Seuss. You introduced me to Thomas the Tank Engine, who would soon become an obsession for you. You still have most of the engines ever made, along with miles of wooden track. The living room used to be so covered with Thomas toys that one could hardly walk in there.

A couple years after you were born Duncan entered the world. You have been the perfect big brother for him since day one.

Sure, you guys fight. But all brothers do. It always passes after a few minutes, and sometimes the dialogue makes me laugh.

Like when Duncan exploded at you for calling him cupcake.

Or the many times you two fought over who would get to use the computer first.

It always passes, and then you do things like read him chapters from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” every night.

That’s quite a big brother. Duncan’s lucky, and he knows it.

In the last couple years, you’ve shown a mind-blowing ability for reading, art and writing.

You also have an amazing talent for drawing sea creatures and cutting them out. The proof is all over my office.

You have your obsessions, just like me. Right now it’s Legos. I promise to keep an eye on you and teach you the things I’ve learned to keep the obsessions from getting the better of us.

Tonight, for your birthday, we’re going to the N.E. Aquarium, one of your favorite places on Earth. Tomorrow we’ll have the birthday party with your school chums, then the family party is Sunday.

A week of celebrations? You are worth it.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Your Dad loves you.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Erin Brenner April 21, 2010 at 6:14 am

Ah, so sweet! (Though he was born 1 hr., 20 min. before Earth Day.) You’ll have quite a task to write something equally moving for Duncan on his birthday. 😉

I read it to Sean, who said: “Good. It’s kinda long.” Never mind that the song finished just as I finished reading. Perfect timing!

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