As I mentioned to you when we met, I am your Tia Effie. I’m the one who keeps taking your clothes off. (That lady who keeps putting them back on is your Auntie Kelly.) I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but you are a second child. Your brother is that small, loud thing that moves fast and keeps kissing you on the head.
This thing, being a second child, means that by now, even though you are only a few days old, everyone has already compared you to your brother a thousand times. We’ve talked about how you look like him, how your lips are like his, how you’re quiet like he was, and like to sleep like he did… You’re going to hear a lot of that. From now on, the comparisons to him will be pervasive, and perpetual. You won’t just learn to walk the day that you do – you will learn to walk sooner, or later than Luis. You won’t just learn to talk, you’ll talk sooner or better or later or with more ferocity that your brother (as hard as that is to imagine) and we will all make those comparisons between the two of you pretty much every day for the rest of your life.
Your brother Luis, he has the magic of the first child. He is your trendsetter, the guy setting the standard against which we’ll all helplessly juxtapose you. I’m a first child myself, so I can tell you that as much as this is probably going to bug you, you can keep in mind that being the first child has its downside. He’s had to break your parents in, going first, training them up. Trust me, they’re way better at this parenting stuff now thanks to him. You aren’t going to have to deal with rookies. He is the first child, your big brother, the guy who turned your parents into a family, and he’s going to have that over you from now on.
If you ever get to wondering if you are less remarkable than him, my sweet wee man, let me tell you now what magic you hold. It is important, special love-magic, and nobody else in this family could have worked this spell but you. You are a second child, that means that when we learned you were coming, we all worried about the same thing. (This is something nobody talks about, quite wisely, but you will soon learn that your Tia Effie talks about all kinds of things that I’m not supposed to. It’s part of my charm, along with a good ability to talk your parents into letting you do stuff. You’ll love it later.) We all looked at your brother, we all felt the enormous love we have for him, and then we thought about you, and we wondered, sweet magic boy, if there was room for you. Our love for him was so remarkable… could we love you as much we love him?
Here is your magic. Last week, when you arrived earthside, with your own special face, your own unique self, each of us took you in our arms and one by one, each and every one of us knew a thing instantly. Those of us who have more than one child remembered it in one second, but your parents, new to the alchemy and special magic of a second child, learned it in one overwhelming, incredible, spectacular moment.
You are a multiplier. You are amazing. Our love isn’t divided when the second child arrives. There is no finite, counted measure of love. We don’t take the love we have and divide it amongst our darlings, with each added human getting a smaller chunk. Your magic is to remind us that love is expansive and infinite. We couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as Luis, and then there you were, and you took a breath, and reached out a wee hand, and the family collectively gasped as every part of us capable of love was made bigger, and stronger, and loved you as much as anything, ever. You are that remarkable magic, and you are that special, and that is every bit as amazing as being first.
Like for your brother, and for your cousins, and for Hank, and for all the new people I love, I knit you a blanket. Just like theirs and now yours, this blanket is as unique as you are. The middle part is an old Spanish lace pattern, to honour the Spanish part you get from your Father. In the border is snowflakes, for the Canadian half that is your mum. (You’ll learn about winter later, my summer boy. It’s coming. I’ll make you a sweater.) I also chose trinity stitch, and then diamonds, for the incredible thing that you’ve done, turning a little knotted family of three into a sparkling, whole, four sided structure.
You are like your brother Luis, and you are like your mum, and your dad, and so many people who come before you, and you are also fantastically, wonderfully, yourself. Do not doubt it.
We love you, and welcome, and don’t worry. It’s a big family. There are more than enough people to hold you and Luis both. You are second child magic, and we are all so grateful you are here.
(PS. That’s what Lou calls me, but you can choose what you want. Stephanie is a hard name to say.)