Today is my nephew’s seventh birthday. Of course, I love both of my nephews dearly, and feel a connection with each of them for their own reasons. His older brother and I bond over a love of math, puzzles, and storytelling, not to mention our mutual struggles with perfectionism and compulsion. But from the moment of Sully’s birth seven years ago, I have always felt the presence of a kindred spirit.
I am sure part of this is our mutual place as the youngest child. We both know the benefits – and occasional frustrations – of having a smart, talented, and attentive older brother. It also doesn’t hurt that I think Sully looked a little like me as a baby. But it goes deeper than that. I see in him my mischievous and creative spirit, confident one moment and wildly insecure the next. We both love to dance and make music, regardless of our skill level. We love to dress up, and play pretend. And (what is perhaps my favorite similarity), we share a groan-inducing love of puns. This is a kid who, at age four, recommended the family name their newly-arrived Elf on the Shelf, “Elfis”. Elfis! That’s brilliant.
One of my favorite Sully stories is from several years ago, shortly after he really started to get into playing fake musical instruments. (I will buy him a drum kit someday, but I am not ready to end forever my relationship with his parents.) He walked through the living room one afternoon, past his mother, who was sitting in a rocking chair reading. She asked him if he would like to come over and rock with her. His response: “I can’t rock now, Mommy. I don’t have my guitar.” I love this kid!
So in honor of Sully’s birthday today, I want to share another story with you. Almost exactly three years ago – just before his fourth birthday – my mother and I were watching the boys for a week while their parents were out of town. Things got a bit silly (as always – I think this was the same weekend we “arrested” G-Ma and turned the hose on her), and at one point Sully started pretending he was a dancing baby. His brother dubbed the character, “Baby Gaga”. Sully thought this was hilarious, and took the name as his own for the rest of the week.
Eventually, his big brother looked at me and said, “Wait, did I mean Lady Gaga?” How he, an almost-seven-year-old at the time, was aware of Lady Gaga is beyond me, but it was too late anyway. Baby Gaga was here to stay. Since Sully – like the real Lady Gaga – loves to sing and dance and dress up in costumes, I sat down that night and wrote the following story for him. The boys illustrated it the next day, but all I can recreate for you here is the text:
BABY GAGA VS. THE FAME MONSTER
By Aunt Katie, 3/20/2011
There once was a boy who was called Baby Gaga,
and he was as normal as you and as me,
Except he could dance like there’s ants in his pants
and sing like the birdies who live in the trees.
Baby Gaga would dance and sing morning ’til bed
because singing and dancing both made him feel glad.
And dancing and singing for others to watch
was the best, so he danced for his mom and his dad.
Baby Gaga liked also to dress up in costumes,
like firemen, pirates, and ninjas and clones.
When Baby Gaga performed in his outfits,
he soon became famous, by *everyone* known!
Soon there were hundreds and thousands of people
running to watch Gaga dance, dance, and sing,
While G-Ma’s and Grandmas all over the world
were racing to dress him up as everything.
At first, the attention was all kinds of fun,
but soon Baby Gaga was tired and sore;
Fans made him sing and dance all through the night,
but he didn’t want to perform anymore.
“I want to play with my toys and watch shows,
and run around crazy and nutty outside!”
But a monster appeared and said, “No, Baby Gaga!”
“You cannot stop, EVER!” the Fame Monster cried.
Faster than light, Baby Gaga dressed up
as a ninja, and soon the mean monster was gone.
At last, Baby Gaga was normal again,
at home with his toys, where he played all day long.
(Happy Birthday, Sully Monster!)