The third and final first

Today I intend to keep the boxes of tissues handy. This is my third and final first Day of Bittersweet Birthday Weeping. As I said before, It Always Slams Me on Their Birthdays.

First, the girl baby -- who spent her eighteenth in the woods, clearing trails, cutting off all her hair except the bangs and side locks - it's called a Chelsea, and THAT was interesting! She still says all girls should shave their heads at least once because girls should learn to define themselves by something other than their looks -- I say there are less drastic ways to come to such personal perspectives. But then ... I always do say that sort of thing to my daughter. I am generally in opposition to repeated broken noses, and need not run full force into brick walls to recognize their brickwallishness. I'm just sayin. (But she does have a nicely shaped head. And hair grows back.)

Then the youngest - the adventurer - the Get-it-done Kid. First he said he was moving out right after high school and then he did it. He got his job, he found an apartment, he moved into more financially realistic digs, he moved in with a friend because of the problem with housemates, and finally he found a good place of his own. He went to school. He gave up his car and learned to commute on a bike and on public transportation. (He had two reasons: financial expense, and emotional expense - he was constantly enraged when behind the wheel of his car in the city.) When that kid says he's going to do something, he does it. And then his birthday came. The first one he did not begin or end in our house. I cheer him on -- and on his birthday, I keep the tissues handy.

And now that taller, curlier, more bearded young giant. It takes my breath away. He turns 23 today. Twenty-three, for cryin out loud. He's the same age I was nine days before my wedding (which makes me the same age my mother was when I got married), and I'm quite glad it's not nine days before his wedding, because I'm very much NOT ready for that! Fortunately, he isn't either. But he's not here. He's at college. It's not far away, but it might as well be Africa - or Asia - or any of the other places he might very well visit someday, researching things like Throat Singing.

Today I think about my tiny, curly-headed little blue-eyed baby. I remember those awful night terrors - I remember how little trouble he was to me, and how much trouble he always was to himself. I remember his frustrated tears and fierce determination over things like video games he refused to abandon until he'd reached the goal. And I remember how boundless his imagination was and still is, and the fact that he taught himself to read - lying on the floor, with his head in the bathroom and his body in the hall. Was he listening to Green Eggs and Ham echo?

My fierce, private, serious, hilarious, wry, focused, soft-hearted, scary Asian movie-watching, weird music-making, curly-headed son turns twenty three today. I'll have pizza delivered to his dorm or something like that. Pass the kleenex, would you?

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