Today is my son's birthday. He is forty-eight, although in my mind, he is a bunch of different ages: one, four, fourteen, and nineteen. Smart, amusing, delightful, and always unpredictable.
I recall his first birthday, smothered head to toe with chocolate cake, (which might be the reason he hates all things chocolate and prefers asparagus, me, too, for that matter) and gave me a big chocolate cake hug, followed by hugs for everybody else at his birthday party.
His fourth birthday he received a fully loaded riding firetruck from his grandparents, which he had begged for, then promptly pulled off every bell and whistle and ladder, leaving a stream of plastic junked firetruck parts littering the neighborhood sidewalk. To my husband’s delight, and to my horror, he unknowingly transposed the “f” in fire and the “tr” in truck, while oh, so politely, thanking his grandparents for the __ire_uck many times over.
For his eighth birthday present to me, he rammed his bicycle into the side of a nearby pickup mirror (this was pre-helmet days) and broke off a tooth and a half. We rushed him to the dentist, but the neighbor saw red about the crack in his vehicle’s mirror, never mind about his tooth.
On his fourteenth birthday, he failed the required eye exam in order to receive his learner’s permit, but he blamed me, his mostly blind mother, as defective, which I probably was. We didn’t know he was as blind as a bat because his grades were always stellar, but he was shocked when he received his new glasses and realized that the trees grew leaves, which he mentioned over and over.
With his father the local magistrate and his mother a teacher at his high school (yes, I had him in class and he was a BRILLIANT student), he mostly didn’t get into trouble, except for those few times...but I won’t list them.
At nineteen, he called us one night and said, “I’ve made a decision.”
“Oh, great,” I said to my husband, “I can’t wait to hear.” He was always full of surprises.
“I enlisted in the Marine Corps today and I’m going to MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) in a week.” This was good news and bad news, bad because he was leaving college early and good because I could stop worrying about his nineteen-year-old as-bestos. It was a great decision, and he has profited from it many times over. He now lives in Alaska with his wife Pam and two sons, well, one is in California, another recent graduate from MCRD. I am guessing that was Cole’s payback…now he can worry, too. Happy birthday, Cole. You are still smart, amusing, delightful, and totally unpredictable, not to mention handsome, but that goes without saying, and we love you.
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