Who’s Old Now, Baby?

Today is my kiddo’s birthday. I’ll call him later and — if he answers the phone — sing Happy Birthday to him. Since I usually do this, odds are good he won’t answer. ๐Ÿ™‚

He’s an only child and was too smart for his own good from the start. When we were stationed in San Diego, one day he and I were waiting for his father to get off work and passing the time in the office DH shared with a Navy psychologist. After talking to the 3-year-old kiddo a few minutes, the doc looked at me and said, “Boy, are you going to have trouble when he starts school. He’s too smart and is going to be too bored.”

Boy, was he right. Besides being smart and easily bored, the kiddo was also impulsive, had a temper and loved to talk. He got kicked out of his first kindergarten class for telling the teacher she was a sh*thead. That’s when I had to explain that truth is not always a defense; some things you just have to keep to yourself, no matter how true.

For show-and-tell in 1st grade, he took his dad’s handcuffs to school and cuffed a kid to the desk.

For show-and-tell in 2nd grade, he explained the various procedures for sex-change operations. (I was watching a documentary on PBS, and honest to God, I had no idea he was even listening, much lessย understanding.)

After a few weeks of school, his 2nd grade teacher asked me to send some busy work to school with him. At 9 a.m. every day, she gave the class papers to work on throughout the day, and he finished his before 9:30 and spent the rest of the time disrupting the class.

He was on a first-name basis with the principal of every school (four) he attended from kindergarten through sixth grade. He was also on a first-name basis with the usual suspects at al those schools.

He has a lot of personality, my middle sister used to say.

He played soccer half-heartedly, played the sax for a while, and liked riding his bike. Still does —ย both his foot-powered bicycle and his two Italian racing bikes. When he told me he was buying the first Ducati, I said, “Oh, honey, I wish you wouldn’t do that. Motorcycles can be so dangerous.” Silence hummed across the lines from northern Italy to Oklahoma, then he patiently said, “Mom, I blow up things and jump out of planes for a living. I think I can handle a motorcycle.”

The first time he got his heart broken, he was a long way from home in South Korea, and he didn’t believe me when I said things would get better.

The next time he got his heart broken, he was a hell of a long way from home in Iraq, and he sort of believed me when I said things would get better.

He served with the 173d Airborne Brigade, the only troops who parachuted into Iraq.ย  A year there, and another year in Afghanistan — no matter how prepared you think you are to have your child go into combat, trust me, you’re not.

He fell in love again, got married, had a child of his own and fell in love all over again. It’s sweet to watch this man, who carries a weapon like I carry my cell, who blows things up and jumps out of airplanes and rides motorcycles at 140 mph, go all soft over his 16-month-old son. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his own kiddo.

Just like there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for mine.

He’s surprised me, scared me, frustrated me, made me laugh, made me angry, made me cry, and he’s made me very proud.

Happy birthday, bebe. I love you.

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13 thoughts on “Who’s Old Now, Baby?

  1. Aw, Marilyn, you brought tears to my eyes. And you made me laugh. You sure had to be on your toes with that one. And you wouldn’t want it any other way, I’m sure. {well, maybe just a “little” when he was small. lol}

    Happy Birthday, B!

    Linda

  2. Oh, Marilyn, I bet we could swap stories. Isn’t raising a boy fun! I have two, one twenty-five and one thirteen. My twenty-five year old will become a dad for the first time this June. The greatest joy is watching him morph into the man he’s become. I’m sure its the same for you too.

  3. Thanks, Meg. I remember that time he was home on leave and you were spending the weekend, sitting there surprised by how much you had in common! You knew all the shows, movies, music, he liked.

    Your kids are on the right path. You’ve been a great mom.

    Thanks, Linda. He was definitely a handful — or two. He was one of those kids who was in to anything; in fact, my sister’s biggest rule for her little boy was, “If your cousin would do it, you don’t.” One time when he was five or six, I sent him to his room for time-out — no reading, no playing, no TV, nothing but sitting and waiting. A while later, I checked on him to find him sitting on the ledge outside his second-floor window. When I started to yell at him, he responded, “You said no reading, no playing, no TV, just sitting. You didn’t say I couldn’t open the window, take off the screen and sit outside.”

    It was fun, Lynn . . . though I started turning gray at 25, lol. It really has been an experience. Sometimes I hang up the phone after talking to him, and think, Oh, my gosh, that was a real adult conversation with my baby. When did he become capable of that??? Sometimes in my mind he’s still this sweet, incquisitive, impulsive kid who always got the biggest smile when he saw a camera pointed his way, who insisted on ordering his own meals in restaurants from the time he was three, who had opinions and wasn’t afraid to share them.

    These first thirty years have been an experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Marilyn…

    about real adult conversations with our babies? Someday…offline…I’ll have to tell you about the conversation my son and I had about Hooters. (the restaurant… not the….) Well anyway, it was a memorable moment when I realized we weren’t just mother and son anymore. We had become friends. I stared at the cell phone afterwards and wondered, when did that happen?

    Lynn

  5. Interesting stories, although I do not recall many of those elements; therefore, they never happened. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Needless to say, you are right. My son is my life, with my wife a close second, as it should be. I am very dedicated to my job and serving my country. I have learned an interesting set of skills that will do me no good in the outside world, but someone has to do it. Not a lot of anti-insurgency campaigns being run in Tulsa you know. But I wouldn’t trade in any of it… not even when I have been injured, scared, tired, or depressed. I think the new Army slogan should be “We do bad things to bad people”.

    I’m glad I will never see combat again, but a part of me does miss it. I fight so that my son never has to. My days of jumping out of planes are done, but I will always be a Paratrooper at heart. Even when I break multiple bones at once. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Most of all, I am proud of my family. I am somewhat self sustaining, but you gotta start somewhere and I think they did a great job raising me.

    Turning thirty is not so bad becuase I am technically still young. But just like I tell all the new troops I teach nowadays:

    “It’s not the age, it’s the mileage”

  6. Lynn, looking forward to offline sharing! Bet we have some similar tales.

    Oh, Sandee, a herd??? I’d have been locked away somewhere by the time the youngest turned 18 . . . or I’d have amnesiac periods scattered throughout my life. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Okay, sweetie, now you’ve made me cry. We’re blessed to have you.

    And about all those broken bones — what is they say? “There are no bad jumps. Just bad landings.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love you.

  8. BTW, in that first paragraph, when I said the kiddo probably wouldn’t answer the phone? I was right. I sang “Happy Birthday” the first time, then the Red Lobster “happy birthday” song the second time, along with a message that I knew still more variations to sing if he didn’t call me back. He did.

  9. I enjoyed your post, Marilyn. I too call my sons up and sing happy birthday. My oldest one doesn’t answer the phone on his birthday so I leave message. The youngest did answer the phone and when I started singing, there was silence, then and agonized “you can stop now Mom. I’m still asleep”

    Brandon, I enjoyed your response to your mother’s post. I also want to thank you for serving our country, for doing your part to protect us. Your mom and dad did well.

    Claude Mary

  10. You never have to be ashamed of the job you did on your kiddo, Marilyn. He grew up just fine.
    Brandon–thank you for your service.
    My favorite conversation with my youngest is the one where he admitted that all the things I tried to teach him were…wait for it…were…right! OMG, talk about words of praise.

    Jackie

  11. Thanks, Claude Mary and Jackie. I have a letter he sent me from basic training in which he said IN WRITING that I was right about everything I’d tried to tell him before he left. I haven’t framed it, but I do keep it handy in my desk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I’m sure he’d say a fairly humble “thank you” if he makes it back here to post. His training schedule is busier this year than usual, so I never know whether he’s home or in the field.

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