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!