Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy First Birthday, Sweet Henry!

Could it truly have been a year ago when since my sweet nephew's tumultuous entrance into the world?

It has become something of a family legend: his mother Amp went into sudden, hard labor at 5 p.m. on a busy Friday night in West Los Angeles. The drive to the hospital in cross town rush hour traffic was tortuous. A medical team awaited her arrival in the hospital parking lot. But Henry bided his time, not making an appearance until nearly 3 a.m. on June 30, 2012. That was the last time he caused any family tumult.

                                         Newborn Henry with sister Maggie, 3    

                         Baby Henry with his Dad and (camera-shy) Mom Amp

It would be hard to find a more charming, agreeable, good-natured child. He is affable and outgoing. He never has tantrums -- even during grueling 17 hour flights back and forth between his family's homes in Bangkok and Los Angeles. His father started a new job in Thailand last fall and since then, the family has lived in a high rise condo in the heart of the city, visiting Los Angeles only occasionally.

Wherever in the world he finds himself, Henry goes with the flow, enjoying cloud gazing with his loving Dad from the time he was only two months old, smiling when his mother sings to him or when his father reads him a story. He loves exploring, seeing new places, meeting new people. During a recent visit to Los Angeles, he strolled around a mall play area, greeting and shaking hands with all the watchful and astonished mothers of other toddlers there.

                                               Mike and son Henry at two months

He regards his bright, beautiful but more tightly-wound sister Maggie with amusement, laughing when she has a tantrum. But, more often, he looks up to her, trailing her wherever she goes, wanting to be as strong and competent as she is. And so he walked -- and ran -- by the time he was 7 months old.

                               Henry and Maggie, jetlagged on arrival in Bangkok

                               Henry with Maggie on the way to school in Bangkok

                                                   Henry on the run in Bangkok

                                         Enjoying a mall play area in Los Angeles

  Henry's developmental landmarks -- like stranger anxiety -- are fleeting and low key. Instead of hiding from or crying at the sight of a stranger, Henry stares them down, sizes them up and then welcomes them to his world.

                                Henry, 9 months, in stranger stare-down mode

                                          Henry cuddling with his Dad

He is growing up on two continents, two very different worlds, bi-lingual and bi-cultural, on the cutting edge of a new global future. But he is surrounded by love: from Amp, his Thai mother, and her lively young family in Thailand and Mike, his Irish-American father and his extended older family here in the U.S. who all love both Henry and Maggie and wish them the best in a future we can barely imagine.

What kind of man will this toddler become? What lies in his future? Will he build a life story entirely his own, woven from the family experiences, traditions, sentiments and beliefs of two distinct cultures? Will his life have faint echoes, perhaps only in family stories of other times, of his father's growing years? How long into this century will we be able to follow Henry and Maggie until they head into a future that only they will share? 

Who are you becoming, sweet Henry?

He's mum on future plans, living happily in the moment -- the only time, after all, that any of us really have. And that moment, today, is his first birthday. Happy Birthday, Henry! May your days be many and joyous!

                   Henry, one year old today, and ready to take on the world!


  1. Oh my, both children will have a future we can hardly imagine, on two continents, with understandings and knowledge based on intercultural give-and-take. I think of how my grandchild navigates the world, self-assured, always considerate of others, always adaptable and flexible in circumstances that would make me tear my hair out. Blessings to them, and to the parents who were brave enough to cross their own boundaries to meet a brighter future.

  2. What a lovely family! Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy birthday to Henry! What beautiful, glorious children they are!

  4. Happy Birthday to Henry... What an adorable child... Sounds like he will have the BEST of two different worlds... That is special. His sister, Maggie, is a gorgeous child also....

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. What wonderful possibilities are his!

  6. Dear Kathy, your writing so captured the essence of Henry--or so it seems to me from looking at the photographs and from the stories you tell of his equanimity. Like you, when I meet new children who entrance me I wonder what possibilities will present themselves in the future and just what kind of adult this child will become. Life is mystery. For sure. Peace.

  7. Such sweetness in those two little faces! Happy birthday to Henry!

  8. Such a tender and affectionate post, Kathy, which gave a lovely portrait of a child of great determination and character. Walking and running at 7 months! His poor parents.....

    Happy birthday, Henry and may life be kind to you and your sister.

  9. I love the pictures of the children asleep.
    Such innocence, such trust.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they never lost that?

    Sadly, its not what we humans do.