Today is our son's birthday. He is forty years old today. And those forty years have been filled with joy. Well, most of the time.
He was born three years after his sister who had been without doubt the easiest infant and toddler you can imagine. She was so adaptable and good-natured. And never once had a temper tantrum. She seemed to have come into the world, looked around, and thought, "Now what do I need to do to adapt?"
Our son seemed to have come into the world, looked around, and thought, "Now what do these people need to do to adjust to me?" Even as an infant he was determined his make own schedule. We learned quite early about toddler tantrums.
He continually surprised us. We were visiting in another state when he was barely 18 months old. The people there gave him a little truck to play with. He amazed everyone in the room by spelling out "T-E-X-A-C-O," and then said, "Texaco." We had no idea he could recognize individual letters much less sound them out and read words.
He was very difficult to discipline because he seemed to make all of it fun. He was such an active child, we tried to make the discipline include things that made him sit still for a while. He quickly memorized anything we gave him---Presidents, Preamble to the Constitution, Rudyard Kipling and Longfellow poems, etc. He could amuse himself forever if sent to his room. If he was made to sit in a chair for a time out, his imagination took him far away from reflecting on what he had done. His father assigned him to read Robinson Crusoe when he was six. (Yes, he could read that well.) So his escape was to read in the den and then run to find me to question every single word he did not understand. So he was reading for a few minutes and then jumping up to run to find me. That ended that. We finally discovered that he hated the simplest of yard work. So discipline revolved around picking up sticks, raking, weeding, etc. Active as he was, he still hated forced physical activity.
His quick wit earned him lots of praise from certain of his teachers, and lots of scorn from others. One teacher at conference would tell me "what a delight he is. So clever and bright." The next teacher would tell me, "that boy has an attitude and a smart mouth and needs to be kept in line." Seriously? They were both talking about the same child? In the same grade?
When he was three he had a very favorite tee shirt. He wore it almost every single day, much to the chagrin of his grandmother. ("You shouldn't let him get away with telling you what he will wear." To which I would reply, "What possible difference does it make as long as the shirt is washed and clean?" And if we were going somewhere he would change. But he put that shirt back on the minute we got home. I kept the shirt all these years, and sent it to him with his other gifts for his 40th birthday today. He remembered it of course, and was so surprised that it was in such good condition considering how often he wore it.
He's just about outgrown the shirt.
But he was still proud of it.
His Senior picture.
The clean-cut preppy look disappeared in college, never to return.
His curly hair was never again so tamed by a short haircut.
Our son has grown into a wonderful man as well as a terrific son. A person I would love meeting and talking with even if he were not my son. He is a compassionate husband and a dutiful son-in-law. He is tolerant of all sorts of different lifestyles and religious beliefs. He is a loyal friend. He is a gourmet cook who now cooks delicious meals for us when he visits, and sends me recipes to try. He loves to entertain and cook for his friends. He is a marathon runner who is willing to slow down to partner and pace with a friend who is a novice runner.
He is one fine human being and we are proud to call him our son.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR SON