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To My Son: Happy Birthday January 8, 2008

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Parenting/Children.
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Today is yours and Elvis’ birthday. Time to break out the peanut butter and ‘nanner sandwiches. (Or maybe the peanut butter and ‘nanner Reese’s.)

pb and nanner

Today, you’re seventeen years old. I know you’ve noticed the dramatic difference that seems to exist between being sixteen and seventeen, based on your comment the other day of “Wow… I’m old.” We laughed about that when you said it, but it’s true. What a huge difference one year makes…

One Year Ago…
One year ago, you were anxious to see what it would be like to drive. This morning, you woke up with nearly a year’s worth of experience behind the wheel. Some of that experience has been in situations where there was more tension than either of us have liked, but as we noted in various discussions, it’s better to gain experience in those kinds of situations than in ones where someone’s life is at risk. You’ve learned a lot, and are on your way to becoming a very good driver. I appreciate the fact that you understand the responsibility that is in your hands when it holds the steering wheel of a car.

One year ago, you hadn’t yet developed the reputation in sports that is now yours, and yours alone. You were still the “little brother,” and knew very well what it’s like to live in someone else’s shadow. Since then, you’ve demonstrated physical strength such that various school records are either yours, or within your reach. Since then, you’ve demonstrated that you’re a different athlete from your brother. You’re not the basketball player he was, but he wasn’t a wrestler or a powerlifter. Since your last birthday, you’ve demonstrated that you can excel at a “thankless” position in football, to the extent that you receive recognition and “thank you’s” from not just the coaches, but the other players that depended on you.

One year ago, you didn’t know what it would feel like for your team to beat the cross-county rival for the first time in school history. Now, you know exactly how good it feels to be part of the team that did that.

One year ago, you didn’t know what it would feel like to help carry the casket of your last living grandparent. Unfortunately, now you know that too. Hopefully, you also know how much each of your grandparents would have loved to have witnessed this past year of your life. If you think your mother is loud at football games, you’d simply not be able to imagine how loud both of your grandmothers would have been. However, you do have the luxury of remembering how much they loved you, and enjoyed showering you with special things to make sure you felt that love in a tangible way. All four of your grandparents would have given anything to see the young man you’ve become, but then, each of them told me in various ways that they already knew, because they had already seen glimpses of that man.

One year ago, you were already a “fine, young man.” You were already polite. You were already a good student. You were already someone who would help others without hesitation. You were already someone who knew how to say “Thanks, Dad” at times that have completely shocked and surprised me. You were already someone that your Mom and I didn’t have to worry about with the choices you make. Somehow, a lot of boys seem to lose that between sixteen and seventeen.

You didn’t.

What, Me Worry?
On any number of occassions, people talk to me about violence in public schools, and ask me if I’m worried about someone coming to school with a gun or a bomb. People ask if I’m worried that you might become one of the faces we on the news regarding some horrible incident at a school.

I don’t. I know that your response to such situations would be immediate, and self-sacrificing. I know that I would be proud of your actions in such situations, because of the things I’ve seen this past year. I know that somehow, you’ve learned to put others ahead of yourself.

As a parent, of course I worry about your safety and dread the thought of something happening to you. However, I’m more worried about schools that don’t have young men like you walking the halls.

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Comments»

1. tiffanytaylor - January 8, 2008

What a wonderful tribute to your son (and to your good parenting!). Happy birthday to him! 🙂

2. Leeann - January 8, 2008

I am sure you made his day very special.

3. Bonnie - January 9, 2008

He is a wonderful young man, as is his brother. As one of his aunts, I can tell you that our mother would certainly have been loud at football games. She would have been at everyone, even if it meant taking along an oxygen tank. But she also would have spoken to him quietly – to tell him how proud she is of him. To tell him that she is proud of the decisions that he has made. To tell him that she sees strength in him that is more than just physical – it’s steely determination; it’s faith that will move mountains that seem unmovable to others; it’s commitment to do the right thing no matter what others think; it’s love for his family. I know she would have written this because I’ve seen the same things. And Daddy would have commented on this message, saying much the same thing.

If Daddy was still living, he would now be 82. But I dare say that he would have insisted that we set up a blog and show him how to post. Though a 2-finger typist, he would have posted every day that he able. And one of the tags in his tag cloud would surely be “Grandsons”. Both of your sons would find their themselves in that cloud.

You would be there too, Tim. “Timthefoolman” would be on his blogroll. And if we didn’t teach him how to copy and paste or trackback, he would have laboriously copied at least parts of this message to say in his own blog how proud he is of you. The challenge would be ensuring that he preserved your anonymity, and that of your sons.

I agree with Tiffany. This is a great tribute.

You’re doing a great job, as a blogger and a dad! Love you!

4. Marie (the MUCH YOUNGER - would you believe a little younger? - SISTER) - January 9, 2008

Birthday’s are special, and all the more so when they get that very specific recognition that can only come from a parent. Especially as a teenager, a parent’s thoughtful comments (and many “thoughtless” ones as well) will be carefully archived for later reference. Think how many times we all go back, rewind and replay comments made by our parents, whether good or bad! Anyway, I applaud the way you consistently and respectfully honor your family in such a beautifully public way on this board, Tim. I have no doubt that it has positively impacted them, your whole family, and all of us for that matter.

One of my proudest moments is realizing what exceptional human beings my older siblings have become. What hope I take away from witnessing their parenting successes! What joy I take from the occasional stumble! (Seriously – it is heartening to think that MY son won’t be the only one to occasionally mess up!) 😉

Tim – Your sons both amaze me, each in very different ways. As Tiffany and Bonnie have suggested, the men that they have become (and are becoming) is a tribute to you and Leeann, as well as our parents and ancestors. You’re wonderful parents, and no doubt your sons’ will provide many beautiful memories for all of us to go back and replay in the years to come. (“It’s not a Tumah!” notwithstanding.)

I’m grateful for the chance to have grown up with each of my sibs to emulate, and to still be around to see all our boys becoming men. It’s a tremendous blessing and an honor.

Happy Birthday Spencer! From one of your other Aunt’s… The birthday card’s in the mail. Really. I mean it this time!

5. Oscarandre - January 12, 2008

Happy birthday, Spencer (but nothing in the mail, I’m afraid). I hope I can say these things when my son turns 17, Tim.


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