2009-10-15 / General Stories

Happy Birthday, Son!

Dear Son,

You will be 21 years old very soon. I can't believe that so much time has gone by already. It seems like just yesterday when you were sitting in a stroller, chewing on my purse handle, and drooling every time you smiled. Oh, I understand why: You didn't have any teeth to hold in all that "happy juice".

Since then, I have proudly watched you grow. and grow. and grow some more, into the six-foot, 5-inch man that you are today. Because of your unique height, you can now see more and reach higher than anyone in our entire family. It is a testament of your innate humbleness that you choose not to reach any higher than your red Converse sneakers. Those sneakers are high-tops, though; sort of a nod of acknowledgement to your vast potential. Also, the red color is no doubt an attempt to draw your listeners' eyes downward rather than into the far reaches of your beautiful face. So unpretentious!

You have had an extremely varied life. You've tried basketball, which considering your frame, would have probably made you way too much money if you had played for more than six weeks. You were also in Boy Scouts for a short time. Apparently, you had a problem with "being prepared." Too bad, because the uniform looked great on you. Ah, you were much too young to deal with the pressures of those fleeting endeavors, anyway.

A longer stint in band and theatre were the means you employed to make a large army of friends in high school, but these activities lacked the "stickiness" needed to make you pick up your trombone or utter a single monologue since you graduated.

A guitar was more to your liking, you said. This, of course, shows that you embrace change. for a short time, at least.

You are also resourceful in your commitment to ecology, son. You even try to save your little piece of the world by keeping the use of laundry detergent to an absolute minimum.

One thing you have really taken a liking to, which will probably have no bearing on your future, whatsoever, is video games. Boy, if there is one area where I can showcase your stick-to-it-ness, this is it. Never in my life have I seen such determination, persistence, and single-mindedness as your dedication to your video games. with the exception of your older brother. Yeah, he modestly denied it as well. But we, your family, are well aware of your alternate life. And, of course, we are so proud of your accomplishments there.

College was a boon for you. So many majors, so little time! I am so pleased with the way you persevered through so many changes and adapted so well. In your signature style, you finally settled on a double major which should open up more possibilities for jobs when you graduate, if applying for a job doesn't clash with your ideal. a stress-free life.

College is supposed to be a launch pad for success and I know that you will soon be launching your career, whatever that may be. Because of the self-discipline you have shown in your video game life, I can see that college isn't just a way station to mediocrity for you.

I understand you are happy right now. You've told me that many times. Ah yes, I remember when eating noodles in sauce for every meal and reusing dental floss made me happy too. It was a long time ago. It was a time when your older brother had to sleep in a drawer and his first toy was a salami. We were happy, though. Our rented, asbestos-filled house with no shower made us happy. The rat that chewed the nipples off the baby bottles made us happy and so did the army of sweet ants that could devour a pan of brownies in one night. We were so happy.

Still, being in the possession of remarkable hindsight, I can say now that college and a good-paying job might have been a better option.

When you were born, 21 years ago, all I ever wanted was for you to be happy, healthy, and financially independent. Two out of three isn't bad, I guess.

Twenty-one years later, though, I still wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Financially Independent Birthday!

Love, Mom You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com

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