Sunday, December 21, 2008


Even though my birthday is today, we celebrated yesterday with cake and cards in Belleville - watching two year old Ruby tuck into my birthday cake was a gift in and of itself. As my birthday is close to Christmas, we also celebrated the birth of that other guy with Joseph and his Dad and Ruby's mom Marissa. After the cake, Ruby almost vibrated as you could see sugar take human form. She would run from room to room through the door that connected the two hotel rooms shreiking with laughter.

At one point she came up to Joe and asked, "Is there a monster in the room?" Joe looked around seriously and said, "No, there are no monsters here." She then went and peeked in the other room and came back and asked, "Is there monster's there?" Joe said, seriously again, "No, we don't let monsters in here." You could see the effect of these words, assurances on her. She relaxed into space that she knew was safe. The monsters had been banished by Joe's words and calm manner.

As I watched her run around the room in delighted abandon, as she cavorted with cake energy and twirled in her new Christmas dress it was as if she was floating in the knowledge that she was surrounded by those who watched out for monsters, those who would keep the monsters at bay. I wished, right then, that it would always be this easy. That all her monsters would be subject to the love of her parents and the care of those around her. That all her monsters would be banished by the kind words of a man like Joe. That her safety would be assured and her joy undiminished.

But she is yet to turn three and the world is full of real monsters, real dangers and real treachery. Kind words and watchful parents will not keep these at bay. She has a difficult world that she will need to navigate. I know that.

So I'm glad that today we can say 'not yet, now now' to dangers. I'm pleased to be here in her world, a world of pure joy and complete safety. I feel blessed with the power over her monsters today and maybe tomorrow.

"Is there a monster in the room?"

That's a question that I need to ask more often.

"Is there a monster in the room?"

Not today Ruby, not tomorrow, but one day you will be more powerful than monsters. One day you will be your own guardian. One day you will assure some little child that the world is safe.

But most of all, I'm glad you learned from us today, on my birthday, that kind words and gentle reassurance have power over monsters.


Teresa said...

Happy Birthday Dave!

Hope your day is special with the ones you love nearby!

Spinningfishwife said...

Happpy Birthday, Dave!

Andrew Moss said...

Many happy returns Dave. Keep up the good work with the blog. Are you in Belleville much? My partner and I are emigrating there from the uk. Looking forward to seeing how approaches to learning disabilities compare between the two countries! Kind Regards Andrew

jypsy said...

Happy Birthday Dave! Wishing you a year full of enlightenment (lessons), taught, learned & shared.

Anonymous said...

happy birthday from a 4 day after Christmas Birthday to a 4 day before. when I was younger I hated having a birthday so close to Christmas - it was often ignored or forgotten or I was told my birthday present was in with my Christmas present. Now as the decades have gone by and I am not that eager to celebrate the annual event I am quite delighted that it is a quiet event and I get to decide how to acknowledge it. Your way sounded perfect! Happy Birthday to you.... MDN

Vogon Poet said...

That's so sweet!
Happy Birthday Dave!!

Night Owl said...

Happy Birthday Dave!

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Daaaaaaaave!
Happy birthday to you!

Anonymous said...

My son is a bit older than Ruby but went through the same stage in dealing with monsters. The absolute trust (and amusement) he has in complete confidence that mum or dad can order a monster out of the house and tell it not to come back is an amazing thing.

I'm glad Ruby gave you the best birthday present there is Dave, the absolute trust of a young child in their caregivers.

Happy Birthday Dave.


lina said...

Happy Birthday Dave!
thanks for a great post!

Belinda said...

Happy, happy birthday! :)

lisa said...

Happy, happy birthday to you!


Wheelie Catholic said...

And thank you for all your kind and gentle words over the year(s). Happy Birthday, Dave.

Linda said...

What a great day to be born on.....the winter solstice! I love this day of the year. I get to think of my celtic ancestors who celebrated today as a special day in their lives.
Happy Birthday Dave and Happy Solstice!
Love LinMac

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a wonderful b-day Dave!

liz said...

Happy Birthday, Dave!!

Kimberley said...

I just found your blog and thought I'd leave a comment to wish you a happy birthday!

This was a really well written entry that really made me think about things. I'll definitely be coming back!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Dave!
Wishing you a great year filled with many new surprises (& no monsters)

Anjie (mom to Adam, 6)

Cynthia said...

Happy Birthday!
Wishing you many more!

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:
We share a birhtday. So from one solstice baby to another:

Happy Birthday! Sounds like it was a wonderful celebration.

To Andrew Moss - I am in Belleville and would be happy to welcome you. Is there a way for us to share contact information without posting it on Dave's blog?


Amy said...

Happy belated birthday, Dave! Thanks for doing what you do every day.

Lene Andersen said...

Happy birthday! Sounds like it was pretty near perfect...

Shan said...

Dave, Happy Belated Birthday! Imagine me not giving you B-day greetings when I talked to you on Christmas.

This story made me cry.

Cynthia said...

That is such a great picture of Joe and Ruby.

Cynthia Freeman