Happy birthday, Boy

Every time I don't see him for a while, I forget how big he is.

He'll go away to visit his father for a week, or he'll go to Scout camp, and then he comes back. Every time, I'm surprised to see this deep-voiced, barrel-chested, tall young man I have to reach up to hug, instead of the sweet, mischievous little boy who used to crawl into my lap every night for cuddle. And yet, when I look at him, I still see shades of that little boy in his face.

I'm timing this post to hit at 3:30 p.m. CST, because that's when he was born. I went into labor about 10 a.m. Jan. 5, 1999, which I remember because that's when we put the paper to bed at the NewsTribune and we had just finished our work when the first pains hit. Labor went all the way through that day, into the night, drove me to the hospital, and I was still in labor when the sun came up the next day, because Boy never did anything the easy way. He wasn't content with just being born; no, he had to break my tailbone with his skull and then we finally went for an emergency c-section. 

3:30 p.m., 9 pounds 3.5 ounces and 21 freaking inches tall. Yes, he was nearly two feet tall when he was born. So when I look at itty bitty newborns and think, "My son was never that small," sometimes I'm telling the truth.

It's a funny time for both of us. He's in that half-shadow between child and man, where he is striving for more independence and self-determination, wanting his freedom and thinking about some of the big choices he will be making in the next couple of years. He's also young, not just in years but in maturity, and longing for simpler childhood times when he felt safe and secure and Mommy took care of everything.

I never told him that there were no such things as monsters. We tell children this, and they learn not to trust us. How come grownups cannot see the monsters? Of course there are monsters; they're under the bed and in the closet and on the TV screen. Instead, I told him that monsters will leave us alone, because they are afraid. Mommy beats up monsters. Surprisingly, this worked quite well. 

I hope I have done right by him and taught him what he needs to know. I know I did the best that I could. I never know if it was enough. I guess no mother really knows.

We're well past the days of balloons and silly hats and relighting cake candles (because I always buy those). Instead, it'll be dinner at a restaurant and laser tag, and he'll win because he always does. And we'll talk about college and car insurance, instead of Superman vs. Batman. Well, the latter might be in there as well. We're still nerds.

Happy birthday, kiddo. Sometimes you're Boy and sometimes you're Spawn, but you'll always be my kiddo, no matter how tall you get.