Today is my 'baby's' twenty-first birthday.
Gosh time flies.... so many memories....The afternoon and night of labor, followed by the morning trip to the hospital, followed by this beautiful infant that changed my life forever. The infant quickly a toddler I still held in my arms, rocked to sleep, bit my mouth to keep from stopping him when he climbed his first tree, bit my tongue to keep it silent so many times when my every instinct was to protect him from all possible harm... Memories of the young child that wanted to give away all his allowance to help the waifs he saw on television ads for the various children's foundations and any donation box he found next to a cash register... When Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers were the be all and end all of everything, as much as he wanted toys and trading cards, all change found its way into those donation boxes. And of course, as often as it was possible, indulgent mama gave him more when she saw or found out..
The young child that never met a piece of sports equipment, wheels or stick that he couldn't make do exactly what he wanted it to do.... sometimes on the first try.. plastic baseballs hit over the fence when he was two, hockey sticks that fit into his hands and street hockey pucks that made it to the net even when his father played to win.. skates that seemed an extension of his feet; the training wheels off the bike, he took off without a single spill or wobble as if he had been riding on two wheels forever..
How quickly he grew into the '"don't hug me in front of the guys, mom" stage, yet when he was sick or hurt, Mom was exactly who he wanted to hold him ... Memories of the young fellow, wanting to be different, wanting to fit in, not afraid to break the rules of other adults (not his parents) if he thought they were unfair, angered by injustice, but sometimes selfish and self centered wondering where his particular niche might be.. lead or follow peers was at first a balancing beam for him...
Memories of the hesitant freshman in high school moved by the coaches to starting varsity quarterback, practicing every single day of the four years.. quickly figuring out how comfortably to lead young teens larger and older than he... How I cringed at watching him play football.. and hated him learning to 'suck it up' and play for the win no matter the pain.. I remember the long (and sometimes short but over several days) discussions of philosophy, and living and values and religion and seeing my attempts to raise an individual who could make up his own mind, choose his own way, come to fruition.. and the teachers who equated jock with dumb and were always surprised and taken aback by his probing questions in class, his refusal to accept just everything they told him, and his grades that kept him in the upper third of his class. . A little testing now and then, but surprisingly little rebellion at home when the rules about 'demonstrate responsibility and the freedoms will be given one at a time as they are earned', were explained, allowing a lot of what my father would have called talking back, but what I called defend your request, be logical, tell me calmly why should I change my mind when the rules were questioned... sometimes he won..
Now the young adult is evident, responsibility easily draping his shoulders like a well fitting jacket, still a maverick in some places and often stubborn, determined to make his own mistakes... a thinker, yet still a jock; irreverent joker, and sometimes deep; wanting to be in the helping professions but not sure which one, casting about for the exact career that will suit him. Money matters more than I might have liked, but not as much as how things fit and how he feels about what he is doing. Tallish, lean and muscular, outwardly confident and mostly inwardly confident, still possessing that gentleness that allows him to do things like call a vet he knew would take care of and help find homes, rather than a shelter to take in abandoned barely a month old kittens that he found on his way to work and lambasting the sort of people who would leave kittens unable to eat solid food, abandoned in a box.. Strays, animals, people of all ages and stages- are all drawn to him.. Injustice still gets to him... But he is no pushover and he suffers no fools when he believes they should know better. I could go on and on...
Yes, I am proud, and I won't hesitate to tell you I believe I had some hand in his attitudes and demeanor- good and bad.... but I will also tell you that I am always a little amazed at this piece of my soul walking about in the world..
Twenty-one. Where did the time go?