Yesterday, my WIDDLE TINY BAYBEE BOY turned 17. This is impossible, of course, because in my mind’s eye he is still 3 or 4, tops, running through the house with his blankie tied around his neck as a cape, so that he can exercise his full power as SuperBoy.
I realize this is ridiculous, as he has been neither tiny nor SuperBoy for years. These days, he runs through the house screeching like the mighty eagle he purports to be (I cannot explain this), and his wingspan is mighty and I do not remember eagles having scruffy goatees, but YOU ARE DEFINITELY GROUNDED.
He submitted his senior quote and is still impatiently waiting to hear from one college, and yet after dragging around for most of the break I finally took him to the pediatrician the day before his birthday (happy birthday—here’s a sinus infection!) and he thanked me as he always does, always has, even though the voice doing the thanking is a lot lower than it used to be (“Thanks for taking such good care of me, Mom”). He is older and bigger but also still my tenderhearted empath, worried about everyone else and keenly aware that I struggle with the reality of his time with us almost being over.
Still, I had to push through my ambivalence to present him with the proper celebration, which at this juncture is fondly referred to in family parlance as the GET OUT birthday.
To be fair, it was easier to do with Chickadee last year, because 1) her birthday is in April and 2) she was turning 18, the fabled “adult” marker. (And not for nothing, but her birthday also felt like a victory lap in a way that is unique to her.) Still, the precedent was set last year when Chickie got her tattoo, sure (note: Monkey thinks tattoos are illogical), but the entirety of the rest of her birthday presents were dorm items. The birthday before you leave for college is the GET OUT birthday, when your cheapskate parents act like all the stuff they were probably going to buy you anyway is actually for your birthday. SURPRISE!
Poor Monkey; he was turning 17, not 18, and here he is with this January birthday that always gets sort of shuffled in with Christmas, anyway, and he won’t be moving into a dorm for eight months, but he knew—even mentioned, ahead of time, SEVERAL times—that this would be his GET OUT birthday. Chickadee had already won for Best Dorm Item at Christmas, when she presented her brother with a large throw pillow screen-printed with the dogs waiting for a treat. (It’s adorable, and now he can take the dogs to college!) Monkey was such a good sport, though: He oohed and aahed over his stick vacuum, the alarm clock, the clip-on fan, the power management tower, etc. Never in the history of ever has a person been so tickled by a cork board, is what I’m saying.
(I feel like next year, when he turns 18, I’m gonna have to spring for hookers and booze, just to compensate.) (To clarify: That’s a joke. He’ll be halfway through his first year away at college, then, and he can get his own hookers and booze.) (Still joking! If you live in a dorm, there is no need to pay for sex, obvs.)
Maybe some of the gifts were lackluster, but he didn’t seem to mind. We got his favorite Mexican take-out for dinner (Me: “We can have any dinner you want!” Him: “I really just want fish tacos”) and I made him a chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream, as requested. We decided to hold off on cinnamon rolls until the weekend, but that’s just as well, as it will allow me to send some fresh ones back to college with Chickie before she leaves on Sunday.
And speaking of my darling firstborn, her time at home went exactly not at all as planned. SURPRISE! That kid is keeping me humble, I tell you what. I never have to worry that I’ll get too confident in my parenting with her around.