Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ode to Boy- Updated!

At 5:09 AM this morning, I marked the moment 18 years ago that I became a mother for the first time. It's mind-boggling how fast this time has passed. When Alex was a baby, I always wondered what he'd be like when he grew up. Now the day has come I can truly say that I'm awed by the person he is and I couldn't be more pleased. He's smart, responsible, trustworthy, sensitive, compassionate, creative, funny, and an independent thinker. And he's definitely his own person and not a follower of the herd, which is perhaps the quality I most hoped he'd embrace.

He's also more mature in many ways and has better judgment than a lot of adults I know. I have a story that illustrates this very well. A couple of years ago, while a "junior counselor" in the JCC's summer camp program, he attended an outing with all the other teen-aged and early 20-ish camp staff. When he returned, I asked him about it, and asked specifically if anyone was drinking. He affirmed this. He's always been pretty honest about things and I knew he hadn't consumed alcohol before, so I asked if he had any this time. He said he hadn't but it was his explanation that completely floored me. He told me that he knew he had a lot of repressed anger inside (related to girls, and other issues, etc .) and because he didn't have any experience with the effects of alcohol, he didn't want to risk having that anger come out as a result of drinking. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I know a few adults that should consider this. He's continued to demonstrate excellent judgment in these types of situations and continues to be honest about the things he does, which in the past few weeks has included occasional alcohol consumption, but in a way that seems quite restrained for a kid his age. I think he really understands the risks.

Wow, just as I finished writing this paragraph, his dad called from Italy (on the road with the Nevilles) to wish me a happy birthday, as the one who birthed Alex. He'd already called Alex. How nice.

Anyway, all the good things about Alex make it easy to overlook his occasional crabby and surly moods, his lax attitude when it comes to cleanliness (not that any of us in the house are neat-freaks), and his tendency to be an underachiever. I'll gladly take the trade-off.

I cannot believe I am now the mother of an 18 year old man-child who is now old enough to vote, die in senseless wars, and be held fully responsible for any crime he might commit, but not old enough to legally buy alcohol. I fume at the idea that he has to register for the draft. And to that idea, I submit the following picture, wherein Alex uses the Washington Monument to help express our sentiments toward the U.S. Selective Service Registry and all those responsible for the abysmal foreign policy that makes the risk of draft activation more of a concern than it's been since the days when my brother's number almost came up for Viet Nam.

Happy 18th birthday, Alex! The little bunny-man is all grown up!

ADDENDUM: Alcohol and the Birthday Boy

For his birthday meal, Alex had a nice big beef tenderloin filet, cooked very rare, just like the rest of us. I ofered him a beer, his first legal alcoholic beverage. He said okay.

Partaking of this beverage was only ceremonial though, because after just a little, he capped it and said he didn't want any more. Maybe later. If it were any other kid, I might assume that he'd have finished it if he were in the company of his friends. But it's Alex and I know better. And if you think this belief is a pathetic example of my naive idealism, ask me about the story involving marijuana... it's even more unbelievable. A feel so blessed to have this kid!

Thank you Alex, for being you and all that you are!


Blogger Schroeder said...

If he shares any of your qualities, he must be a terrific young man.


1:43 PM  
Anonymous Adrastos said...

Great post, Lisa. You have reason to be proud. Ya done good.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Maitri said...

Draft, what draft?

He's welcome to hide out at my house.

Happy birthday, Alex! Keep judging well, young man. Happy birthday to you, too, Lisa!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Happy Birthday Alex. It's people like you who give me some hope for the future of your country and the world. Great job Lisa :)

5:33 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

Happy birthday, Alex.

I remember having it planned out when I was a kid:

14, get a bicycle
15, get a motorcycle
16, drive a car
17, see an R rated movie
18, drink a beer

Now whaddya do for the 18th birthday? If you want a beer, Alex, I'll buy.

6:28 PM  
Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

You've done an outstanding job, Lisa, you should be proud!
Happy birthday to you both!

7:33 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Thank you, thank you, one and all!

There's one other quality that this boy has that I'm very pleased with but forgot to mention: he's highly ethical, almost to the extreme. For example, he got mad at me for putting a hurricane symbol labled "Katrina" on Rachel's Haloween bag and writing something like "Blown all the way here from New Orleans." He thought it was exploiting our Katrina Refugee status and was just wrong!. He's a funny kid. But he's my proudest acomplishment.

Ashley, we had kinda planned a birthday beer for a while, but you see how it turned out. I think he just hasn't developed a taste for beer yet (though it could also have been my beer selection.)

Thanks again, one and all, for letting the proud mama in me have her day!

10:55 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

Lisa! His 18th birthday, and you get him a Rolling Rock? Howzabout a Restoration Ale? Can I get a witness?

Oh, and you can't call him boy anymore. Well, your his mom...sure you can.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous ashley said...'re his mom

Damned editing...

1:16 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Tell him happy birthday, and he should count himself lucky for his many blessing, first amoung them, his mom.

2:45 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Well, Ashley, he did finish that thing later and said he enjoyed it a little more because it was colder. I admit I'm pretty bereft of beer sophistication. I only rarely drink it. I had those RRs around because they were low in calories and quite cheap. (Gotta watch it these days.) They do just fine after a long afternoon working outside on the house.

If you want to see what Alex's thoughts are about his ceremonial beer and alcohol consumption in general, you can check out today's entry on his LiveJournal page. I'm not using HTML to link to it because I don't want him to know I've found this site, just like the last two... not that he seems to have anything to hide on any of them.

If you want to read something interesting, check out his June 4th entry.

(Clearly, careful attention to spelling is not one of his priorities.)

For anyone with nothing better to do, here is the URL for his page on...

My Space

...and his My Space site with his Nine Inch Nails song remixes (caution- they may start playing automatically).

He's got a Xanga site, too, but the font he's chosen makesit almost impossible to read.

When I look at things he's written about, I can recall our conversations and sometimes see my own words expressed through his voice. Never underestimate the power of parental influence, (for better or worse).

Oh, about that "boy" think... I just didn't thing Ode to Man-Child was as clever. :-)

Richard, thanks so much. I know I don't have to tell you what a difficult job this parenting gig can be, but it does have its rewards.

OK. I'm really am now finished basking in the glow of happiness from having delivered my first ever human being into the arms of adulthood.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Schroeder said...

Yeah, I have to second that Ashley. Restoration Ale would have been better. But who am I to talk. I think my first beer was probably Rhinelander, or some other cheap Wisconsin swill.

5:45 AM  
Blogger oyster said...

Happy belated b-day to your son! And congratulations on being one great mom.

All the very best to both of you.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous adrastos said...

I'm impressed Lisa. You've found new ways to embarrass your kid with the URLs. High tech blushing, I like that. Also, I love the drum picture.

Btw, I'm good crazy. Don't listen to Ashley. I'm considering a no insults/no zingers policy for tonight to counterract all the vicious propaganda...

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Ingrid said...

Happy birthday to Alex! I will always remember him as the smart, sensitive, sweet boy I used to babysit. Can't believe he's 18 - aak!

12:06 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Thanks again, one and all.

Adrastos, I think the parental super-power of inflicting embarrassment has no limits. I'm pretty sure Alex doesn't read my blog, so ignorance will have to be his cloak of lead on this one.

(Actually, I e-mailed him a copy of the initial post and an edited version of the comments, so he'd get the well-wishes. I hope that covers me.)

BTW, I think pretty much all crazy is good crazy...when kept in the proper context. And in the context of our lives here, I think this song covers it: "but we're never gonna survive unless we are a little crazy."

3:12 PM  
Blogger Nairobi Paul said...

Sounds like a great kid. (Man now!)

Congrats to all.

2:50 AM  
Blogger pi22seven said...

Looks like you did a great job! Like you I love being surprised by the person my son is becoming. It's the best.

Here's wishing him a Happy 18 and a million more! *chugs milk*

6:29 PM  

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