K & O’s birthday is May 8th. But somehow it always becomes their birthweek, as opposed to their birthday. How does that happen?– I ask myself this every year. I go over it and over it in my mind. And here it is: First of all, there is their big annual birthday party… which, this year (like, it seems, most years) — for complex scheduling purposes — needed to be held on the weekend before their actual birthday. This is a huge blow-out-of-a-bash and we (for a bunch of very good reasons that I’ll defend until the day I die) go all out for it. It was Saturday, May 1. Then, there is their school birthday. This is a very big deal in the Waldorf Kindergarten. It is deep and profound and intimate and emotional. I’ll cry like only a mama-on-the-occasion-of-her-child’s-birthday can. And then, at the end of it, I’ll be emotionally exhausted in a way that I am on no other day of the year. That will be tomorrow. Tuesday, May 4. And then there is their actual birthday. On that day they will wake up to their end-of-the-bed-present (the one gift they will each get from us; a tradition carried forward from one generation to the next from the Johnson side of the family). And then, that evening, they will get to choose their birthday dinner (whatever they want– I will make it, or they will chose to go to the restaurant of their choice). It will be a small family affair to celebrate the actual day that they were born — to honor their birthmother who gave them life on that day in Port au Prince, Haiti — and to express joy for the fact that K & O are on this earth. When all is said and done, it will be a full week of double (twin) festivities. It is a lot. Many would say it is way too much. Those people don’t know all the details of the why’s and how’s and what if’s. They don’t understand our boys’ histories, our family’s story, K & O’s personalities. There is a reason and a purpose for every bit of it. Reasons and purposes that I know, in my heart, are the foundation for the Birthday Week. And so, we do it. And this week, we are doing it.
Something I started last year was the writing down for — and the reading aloud to — the boys their “Birthday Story.” This was inspired by the personalized Birthday Stories that are told to each child by their teachers in Waldorf School Kindergartens. The story is laden with meaning particular to the child (or in our case, children), and it points to their own life history in the shaping of their life trajectory. Here is Owen and Kyle’s “Birthday Story”~~
Kyle & Owen’s Birthday Story
Kyle Macon Johnson-McCormick and Owen Badio Johnson-McCormick were born in a very special place – a city called Port au Prince – in a country called Haiti. They were also born in a very special way – as twins. Owen and Kyle grew together in their birthmother’s belly until the day they were both born. They were born on May 8, 2004. It was spring in Haiti, the air was hot, and the twin baby boys were healthy and strong!
Owen and Kyle’s birthmother was a beautiful woman who wanted these special twin baby boys to have a wonderful life. She could not take care of any babies, so she made a big decision: for Owen and Kyle to be adopted. This was how their birthmother showed how very much she loved Owen and Kyle. And this was how Heather and Braydon Johnson-McCormick got to be able to adopt Owen and Kyle and become their Mommy and Papi.
Owen and Kyle were in an orphanage in Haiti until they were eight months old. While they were in Haiti, Rock (the Orphanage Director), and Patrick (Rock’s cousin), and the nannies at the orphanage took care of them. January 31, 2005 was the day that their Mommy and Papi came to bring them home. That was a very, very special day! Heather and Braydon flew on a big airplane from Pennsylvania all the way to Haiti. When they got to Haiti they were so excited to meet their babies that they didn’t even take time to eat lunch!!!
When they became a family forever, this is how it happened:
Heather and Braydon walked into the orphanage and Heather saw Owen right away; he was sitting on the floor. Heather went right to Owen and she thought he was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. She looked at Owen and touched his cheek and said, so gently, “Hi Owen, I am your Mama!” Owen did not make any noise; he was very quiet. But he used his big brown eyes to look his Mommy right in her eyes and baby Owen was very peaceful and happy. Then Heather held her baby boy very close for a long time.
Rock went into the Sleeping Room and found Kyle. He brought out little, tiny, baby Kyle and put him in Braydon’s arms. Braydon held Kyle right away. He looked at Kyle and touched his cheek and said, so gently, “Hi Kyle, I am your Papi!” Kyle did not make any noise; he was very quiet. He sat on his Papi’s lap and his brown eyes were so big and he and his Papi looked right in each other’s eyes. Baby Kyle was very peaceful and happy.
Then they switched– Papi held Owen for the first time. He held him for a long time. The whole time Owen was chewing on Papi’s shirt buttons!!! And Mommy held Kyle for the first time. She thought he was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen! She held him close for a long time. The brand new family left the orphanage to go to the hotel. While they were driving to the hotel, Kyle fell fast asleep in his Mommy’s arms! When they got to the hotel, Papi fed Owen a bottle and Owen was so happy and so peaceful that he fell fast asleep in his Papi’s arms! Owen and Kyle were very deeply loved, right from the start.
Owen and Kyle had their first airplane rides when they were just babies—that was when they came home from Haiti. Owen sat on his Papi’s lap, and Kyle sat on Mommy’s lap, and they kissed and hugged and snuggled for the whole airplane ride! When the plane landed in Florida Mommy and Papi said, “Welcome to the United States!” That is when Kyle and Owen became Haitian-American. When Owen and Kyle came home to their own house in Pennsylvania, they were both very, very happy babies! They loved to eat when they were babies! They loved bottles of baby formula. They loved baby food. They loved bread and bananas and yogurt and hummus! Owen and Kyle both learned to walk when they were 10 months old! They took their first steps on the exact same day!
Kyle and Owen were baptized on their 1st birthday; it was a very special day. When they were 1 year old they started swimming. They could jump into the water and stay under water, holding their breath, for a long, long time, even when they were so tiny! They also loved playing golf, and could hit the ball pretty far for 1-year-olds!!! Their favorite thing was books— they always loved to sit on people’s laps while they read books to them. But Kyle couldn’t hear very well, so the year he was one year old he had an operation to fix his ears— after that he could hear the books even better!
At Owen and Kyle’s 2nd Birthday Party a band came to their house and played, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine.” That was their favorite song! They loved to sing and dance to it! When they were 2 years old Owen and Kyle each got a scooter. They would ride them all over the place, really, really fast!
When Kyle and Owen were 3 years old, they got their first bicycles. The first time Owen tried to ride it, he got right up on it and starting peddling like he had been doing it forever! The first time Kyle tried to ride his bike, he rode down his driveway and crashed into a big bush!!!! But he got right back onto his bike and tried it again—the second time he didn’t crash at all! Kyle and Owen started doing bicycle tricks when they were just 3 years old, and they have spent many days riding their bikes together in their driveway. Also when they were 3 years old, Owen had a special operation to turn his “outtie” belly button into an “innie.” After the operation, he had a big smiley-face bandage on his belly button!!!
When they were 4 years old Kyle and Owen got the training wheels off their bikes; that made them love bike-riding even more! And when they were 4, they got a baby sister!!! Meera Grace was born on May 28th. They had wanted a baby brother or sister for a long time. The first time Kyle and Owen met Meera she had just been born. They went to the hospital and each brother got to hold his sister in his arms. They held her so sweetly and kissed her all over her head. Kyle and Owen are really good big brothers – they always know how to make Meera laugh and be happy, and they take such good care of her.
The year they were 5 years old, Owen broke his collar bone skiing in New Hampshire at Christmastime, and he also learned to do forward and backward flips on the trampoline. That same year was the year that Kyle lost his first tooth, and he also learned how to ‘slam-dunk’ the basketball. When they were 5, Owen and Kyle both learned how to tie their own shoe laces.
Now Kyle and Owen are turning 6. Their favorite things to do are to play outside with each other. They love every kind of sport, especially baseball. Owen and Kyle also love airplanes and going on trips— they have travelled to a lot of different places, and they always love adventures. Something that is really special about Owen is that he is very friendly and funny. Something that is really special about Kyle is that he is very thoughtful and loving. It seems that everywhere Kyle and Owen go, they always make the people around them feel happy.
We are so happy and thankful that Kyle and Owen were born! We can’t wait to see what will happen during the year that they are six!