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Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Waylee-Bopper
POOR QUEENIE was the caption Em wrote for this photo. Queenie is the long-suffering female puppy, and young Waylee-Bopper appears to be offering her an excessive amount of affection, as can be the way with young folks.

RISING SUN - I woke up Monday morning to the buzzing of my telephone. I answered and on the other end of the line was Chasca’s aunt, Theresa, apologetically asking if Waylon was awake yet. I told her not quite and groggily hung up the phone. She had called to complete her family tradition of a bright and early round of Happy Birthday to little Waylon, who turned two on November 30. 

I crawled back into bed where Waylon was tucked in tight next to his dad and brother who came crawling into bed an hour or so earlier. Inspired by her call, albeit still half a sleep, we decided what better way to wake up our favorite little person than by singing Happy Birthday. So, we did. Waylon opened up his sleepy eyes and got this funny expression on his face like he couldn’t believe all of this fuss was for him, but that he loved it. 

Waylon, or as he’s better known Bop, hardly seems like he’s two already. I know all parents say stuff like that. But for me, it just feels like we’ve never experienced life without him. Looking back at his baby photos, it seems like such a blur. I hardly feel like I can remember that life two years ago, much less three, in a time before there was a Bopper. 

He is very different than Thatcher was at that age, especially for me. He is very much Chasca’s sidekick and best friend. Whereas Thatcher has always been very demanding of, and attached to me, I jokingly say Waylon just settles for me until his Dad gets home. 

Not that long ago I stood at my kitchen counter spying on a tender moment shared between Da Da and Bop. Chasca hoisted up the fussy little boy and held him in his arms. Waylon gently grabbed his dad's face and pulled it close to his as they nuzzled lovingly. It was almost too sweet to watch. 

Waylon is also very unlike his brother in the way that he has a speech delay. Whereas Thatcher was gabbing his head off well before two, Waylon has a fairly limited vocabulary. His word set is mostly utilitarian in its nature. He manages mostly to get his point across with a series of points, grunts, and few words thrown in. A forlorn sounding ‘how-how’ usually means the dogs stole his snack from him or knocked him down whilst they ran around like maniacs. A loud and offended ‘HEY!’ is usually always reserved for some trespass committed by his brother against him, and often followed by a disgruntled squeal. ‘Boo-bels’ is the downright demand for a grape, strawberry, or raspberry, there is ‘Poof’ for a soiled diaper and ‘POT!’ for an excited exclamation that he used his little potty. Something he is a bit ahead of his time on. 

I secretly enjoy this funny little language that we’ve all developed around his delayed arrival into the proper English language. It helps me hold on to the idea that my baby is still a baby for a little bit longer. Although I didn’t cry this morning thinking about it, it broke my heart a little bit remembering he’s the last little baby I'll ever have to hold. The last soft baby skin and sweet little golden curls that will be all mine. 

We’ve always been lucky to have Waylon come at the time he did. He followed a year of such heavy heartache for us that he became our little reminder that no matter how hard life is, it goes on. 

Every day, it goes on. And even now as he turns two amidst the strangest year, we’ve all had yet, I’m reminded by him that it’s alright. Bop falls right into life seamlessly. Masked faces, limited outings, a lot of time at home and keeping busy. It’s all fine. Even when it seems like the same humdrum days over and over as we continue to shelter at home, he brings joys, life, excitement, squeals and dances to our lives. He brightens our day, and we are reminded that there is something new to see in every day, if we just open our eyes and look a little closer. 

Like everyone else, I don’t know where tomorrow will take us much less an entire new trip around the sun. But I am grateful for the two I’ve had with our Little Brother Bopper. 

I’ve included below, Thatcher’s thoughts about his brother. “I um, think about I loved his cake. I think he loves to play with vroom vrooms and loves to play with me too. This morning, he put my hand on his hand and that was sweet of him, that was nice of him. When he was a baby, he was cute and I loved him. I loved when I was holding him and cradling him for you. I like about him now that he um, he watches Chicken Run with me. I really really love him cause his hands are so soft, when I rub them gently. I like to rassle with him he’s wild. He acts like a real smack buffalo. He acts like a wild maniac and I like that about him.  

“It sounds nice to be his brother forever. I’m never going to be old, because I’m going to drink my milk. Once he's bigger and he’s five, I'll start learning him how to do it (drink his milk so he doesn’t get old). I really spent time loving him and cradling him when he was a baby. He never lets me cradle him now, but I still love him. He sometimes nice to me. I like when he’s always good and nice.”