To Be 18 Again…

My first born turned 18 years old today.  It’s hard for a mother to grasp that – the time has sped by and so many memories have been made and so many more lost somewhere in the voids of time.  But I do still remember the miracle of his birth, this boy who was so desired and dreamed about.  I knew he was going to be a boy, but it wasn’t because of a sonogram because the only one taken of him was when he was still too young to discover the sex.  I knew because when I was pregnant with him I had ‘boy‘ dreams.  I dreamed of baseball and sports.  This may not be a scientist’s way of telling the sex of a child, but it worked with me every single pregnancy.  In my sleep the dreams I had were prophetic of the child I was carrying.  Strange maybe, but true still.

My first born gave me the full experience of the painful hours of labor, the exhaustion and fear of what would happen – and ultimately the birth of a beautiful, healthy red-headed baby boy.  Yes, he was born with a full head of red hair.  Unusual in this part of South Texas where most babies are born with brown hair, if they have hair at all.  Unusual too because his Daddy had brown hair and brown eyes, which ‘SCIENCE‘ tells us are the ‘Dominant‘ genes.  Really?  Because, somehow my freakish red hair and green eye genes took control in this scientific battle.

I always tell my son that the song from George Thorogood entitled ‘Bad to the Bone‘ is his theme song because the lyrics of it start out:

On the day I was born, all the nurses gathered ’round
And they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found

And that is exactly what happened at the small town hospital he was born at – nurses from all over the hospital made a special trip by the nursery because they ‘just had to see the little red headed baby’!  Everyone was ‘Oohing‘ and ‘Aahhing‘ over him.

He was such a good baby too.  He only cried for a reason:  hungry or diaper change time.  He traveled well, never complaining about riding in a car seat.  He even kept on his dark, baby-sized sunglasses (keeping out the bright South Texas sun.)  He was cool.  Oh, and I can’t forget, he was on time!  The only baby I’ve ever heard of being born on his exact due date naturally!

As he grew up, he became inquisitive and thoughtful, learning all he could about the world – dinosaurs and wild animals being his first subjects of fascination (besides sports – always sports for this boy.)  His favorite toys were all balls of various sizes.  He could throw them all expertly, leading me to believe he would become a future pitcher or quarterback.  We wondered why he couldn’t catch the balls as well as throwing them.  Then we found out why when he was about 18 months old and his Grandmother took him to the eye doctor.  The poor boy was almost blind!  She fitted him with these cute, little, round, THICK glasses and suddenly he could see everything!  Now you could throw the ball to him and he would catch it !  Because he could see!  As he grew a little older his nickname became ‘Jerry McGuire‘ because he looked so much like the little boy in that movie, with his spiked hair and glasses.

When he started school, he was a good student and always took learning seriously.  Of course, he still always played a sport.  He started out in T-ball, moved on to Little League but found his LOVE when he started playing football.  I never thought he would take to that sport like that because he was never a rough child.  Turns out he really loved being able to hit and knock down other kids all in the name of sport and not get in trouble for it!  LOL.

He’s always been a rule follower so we never had to worry about him getting in trouble for anything at school.  He’s made such good grades in school that he is rated #26 in a class full of 386 kids.  He set a high standard for his little sister and brother to follow and believe me I’ve heard about it from them through the teachers they have all shared.   Both of his younger siblings have had to hear about what a great student/athlete their brother was.  This doesn’t irritate them at all though (which I think is awesome) because they both love and admire their brother so much – they agree – he is great.   How cool is that?

This boy, who just turned 18, so I guess you could call him a ‘man‘ now, has been such a joy to our life.  I feel privileged to call him my son.  I admire him for his wisdom and strength of character.  He has stood by his morals and his idea of right, never falling to peer pressure or doing something ‘other stupid teenagers do.’   As a person of the world and having been a teenager once myself – I’m astounded by his accomplishments.   This was the young boy whose father (also his hero) died when he was six years old.   He took it harder than anyone.  He tried to be strong until he couldn’t hold it in any longer and then there was a time, for about a year, when he would cry almost every night in grief for his father.  (As his Mom, this was so hard for me – I wanted to take his pain away but there was nothing I could do, only be there to pat his back or hold him…it’s really hard to watch your child suffer.)

I worried this might affect him later – like when he became a teenager – as teens tend to find many excuses to act out or go wild.  God blessed this boy though.  He stayed true.  Just last month I was sitting next to him in Church when the offering plate came around.  I knew he had worked his job that week (mowing yards, no taxes:-) but he was at the age where we had stopped suggesting to him that he needed to save some money or give some to God.  We had started letting him make his own decisions without prompting him.  So you can imagine my happiness and pride when I noticed him casually toss a $20 bill in the plate.  Just giving it to God.  Not expecting anything from it, just doing it from the goodness of his heart.  I wanted to turn and hug him on the spot but knew that would only embarrass him.  (I did however, point it out to his sister and brother who have yet to learn the joy of giving their money away to someone else...)

I’d love to write a note to my son telling him things I would’ve liked to have known at the age of 18 – but I’m thinking my boy already knows them.  He is such an amazing young man that I still find it hard to believe I am lucky enough to be his mother.

No matter what mistakes he may make in the future (as we all know will happen) I am still so impressed by this child at this point in his life that I will always remember him as he has been for his first 18 years – which is darn near perfect in my eyes.

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