I am sitting in a state of shock. I'm not quite sure how this happened so suddenly.
As of today I have a teenager.
Everyone told me as I held a tiny baby, "Make sure you enjoy every day. Take lots of pictures because he will be grown up before you know it." I nodded politely thinking that I had plenty of time. Of course I would remember all of the important milestones. They were etched in my brain. No need to run to the baby book to write things down - how would I ever possibly forget this stuff?
I mean, his first tooth came in right before... well, it was some holiday or other. (Counting on fingers, trying to guess what month it might have been). OK, so maybe the exact date is a little bit fuzzy. But certainly I'll remember every detail of his childhood likes and dislikes. Right? Oh, why didn't I take more videos so I could hear his little voice and see his diaper waddle and the sweet way he would pat the dog with his sticky, pudgy hands?
But I cherish the memories I have. And many make me laugh - now. Maybe not when I was sleep deprived.
He used to throw his bottle or plate when he was done eating. Sometimes over the rail to the sunken living room couch below. On more than one occasion he knocked warmed baby food meat off of his highchair to splatter all over the kitchen (gag). But man, did that kid love Lil' Smokies. We could not feed him enough tiny weiners (OK, that doesn't sound right, but you know what I meant).
We used to go to the park frequently and the Ice Cream truck would inevitably show up, with its tinny music blaring from the speakers. Kids would run to the parking lot for frozen goodness, but we kept my son in the dark for a while. He had no idea what the van was all about and we were thrilled with his lack of knowledge. He just liked the songs. He would joyfully announce, "Music truck!" when he'd hear it, only... he had a problem saying "music" so it came out "Mucous truck!" Not quite what you want to think of before shelling out money for a giant astro pop. And then we'd distract him when the kids came back to the playground slurping their melty Spongebobs-on-a-stick.
He loved the "cozy car" at preschool. You know, the tiny plastic push vehicle - predecessor of today's Smart cars? He played in that thing as long as you would let him, but being that there was only one, you'd have to pry his body out of it so other preschoolers could have a turn. I'm not sure he learned very much that year at the play-based school other than "sharing sucks" and "how to make revving engine sounds". He hated any tactile activities that got his hands gooey. No finger painting or shaving cream fun for this boy. It's ironic then that he wouldn't use a fork until he was about 4 years old. He shoveled handfuls of pasta (and lil' smokies, remember) into his mouth with glee - and just try to wipe his hands or face. Yeah, right.
He loved Teletubbies - so help me. And, though I hate to admit it, we took him to see Barney and the Wiggles live. Oh, the things you endure for your children. Thankfully he moved on to the Justice League and was infatuated with Transformers for a while. I've watched Disney movies and all the Star Wars movies countless times with him (even the godawful episodes I-III). Now he watches some of the "classic" 80s movies with me that I watched when I was his age and I love to hear his heartfelt, unrestrained laugh when something tickles his funny bone like it did mine.
He loves music and reading and sometimes I like to spy on him when he's in his own world and doesn't know I'm looking. I think, "I made this beautiful creature".
He recorded his phone's voicemail greeting two years ago before it deepened into a man's voice. Although I know he's going to need to change it soon, I love to call just to hear what he used to sound like. But you can't keep them little forever. I feel proud of the person he is today, so I guess I can pat myself on the back and take credit for some of it. Who cares when baby teeth erupted if you have a mature, caring, self-assured individual at the end of the day.
Of course, I'm just starting this teenager journey so I may have a different take on it soon.
Happy Birthday to the boy who will always be my little baby.
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