My son just celebrated his 16th birthday on Labor Day. I’ll never forget Labor Day 2000, when I sat the couch for hours, watching a marathon of TLC’s A Baby Story and wondered if the week-overdue monkey in my uterus had his or her toes wrapped around my rib cage or what while my oldest darted around the room, ate Cheerios off the living room carpet and pulled every book out of the shelves so she could sit on the pile of books like a chicken on her roost. Good times. Still took him another day to make his appearance at five minutes to midnight, during the sports highlights on the evening news.
He still likes to keep us waiting.
At 16, my son is now just a hair shy of his dad’s height of 5’8? and his voice has mostly settled down, after a few hilarious years of random voice cracking. Still, when we invited his long-time internet friend out to visit from Ohio for his birthday weekend, we got a few happy squeaks out of him, which secretly warmed my heart.
He’s now a second-degree beginning brown belt in American Kenpo, which is pretty cool, and someday he hopes to get his black belt. He likes to kick people in the butt when they spar, but other than that, I think martial arts has been really great for giving him an outlet for his Teen Rage ™ that occasionally surfaces when his expectations don’t match up with parental realities.
The love for dinosaurs continues unabated, and he’s still crazy about video games. He’s developing “mods” for his favorites, or so he tells me. The kid still loves to talk and talk and talk and talk and in the last few years, he’s really loved to start arguing, or as he puts it, EXPLAINING HOW WE ARE ALL WRONG.
Maybe he’ll be a professor, or maybe he’ll be an attorney? Or maybe he’ll be a talk show host because he wants you to know what he knows, and he also wants to know what you know, but if you’re wrong, he’ll be happy to correct you, even if you’re right.
His skill with art continues to develop, and he’s still playing piano and singing in the choir at school. He loves to dabble in many things, mastering few and abandoning plenty (and leaving the rubble behind while he lopes off in the direction of the next sparkly project.) He gets that from me, I think.
For a few years there, the three kids didn’t always get along, and there have been alliances formed, dissolved and formed anew as they continue to grow into the people they are today. I’m reminded each birthday how much they’ve changed and grown, expanding and contracting to find their fit in the world. Meanwhile, I haven’t changed a bit. (Ha!)