Thursday, June 3, 2010

Here's looking at you, kid.

Yes, you.

I can scarcely believe you're nearly eleven years old. For that matter, I can scarcely believe I'm old enough to have an eleven-year-old. And of course, in some ways, I'm not: when we found out you'd be entering our lives in nine short months, I was 22. Dad was 23. We knew nothing. We had nothing. We were ill-prepared and ill-equipped. We had approximately $50 in our savings account (now we have closer to $, I'm not...yes, I am), I had just begun my first job after college, and Dad was still working on his degree. We lived in a dump of a place in our university neighborhood; the paint was literally peeling off the walls and the manager kept telling us he'd fix the rotted siding but never did. I drove a car that only started about half the time.

I found out you were on your way on a dark, overcast November night. Dad was at work, and I stood there, in our peeling-paint bedroom, stunned to the point of immobility for at least a full minute (which, as you know, is a long time for me to stay still). Because this wasn't the plan. And I do so love a good plan. The plan was to get pregnant at 30 (still eight long years away). The plan was to achieve status in my career first, buy a house first, mature first. Learn what a 401K was. Maybe pay off a loan or two. Because back then, in 1998,  we hadn't even started paying those back yet. We still needed a co-signer for our (crappy) car. We paid for backpacking trips and dinners out with our friends first and rent last. Our most pressing responsibility was caring for our dog (and even that was iffy).

Dad wouldn't be off work for hours, and I knew I had to tell someone this news or I'd combust, so I got in my car (it started!) and drove across the city to our college friend Jamie's place (an equally crappy apartment in an even worse neighborhood). I'm pretty sure I stood, mute, in her little hallway long enough for her to start worrying before telling her the words I still couldn't believe: "I'm pregnant."

And she's probably forgotten this, but I never will: she beamed, and, completely genuinely, she said, "Awesome."

And it was. It really, really was, despite the pathetic bank account and the abysmal housing situation and our very young years. Dad felt the same way, embracing this new turn of events far more readily than I had. Grandma and Grandpa did too, bless their non-what-are-you-thinking?! hearts.

We bought a house in a nicer neighborhood. It gave new meaning to the term 'fixer-upper', but still, it was ours. Yours to come home to. We added hours at our jobs. Dad worked full time and finished school full time. I adjusted my schedule to work 10 hour days until you arrived. We figured out what health insurance we'd need, and we deferred loans. We deferred a lot of things, now that I think about it.

And you were born, and we grew up in a hurry. And it was hard. From the time you learned to roll over, I don't think you ever stopped moving. I don't know how it's medically or physically possible, but I'm pretty sure you didn't sleep at all for the first three years of your life. I know we didn't.

We lacked the perspective we have now. We lacked the resources we have since gained. But we did it, this parenting thing (as young parents truly can). And if you're any indication, I have to say, we did it well. Because you're an amazing kid. You're kind. You're friendly. You're funny. You're imaginative and witty (when you don't resort to potty humor) and you're smart (you'll know this when you cut yourself some slack). You're becoming the sort of real, live person with whom I'd enjoy spending time if I met you on the street. (Not that you spend a lot of time on the streets...I promise, we're good parents!)

And like all parents, I can't wait to see what you do next. This year. Next year. In ten and twenty and thirty years. And I don't care whether you do something amazing, or whether you do something mediocre, as long as what you're doing is what you love. Just don't lose that  eleven-year-old charm, that goofy smile, and that bubbly laugh (yes, it bubbles). Remember that you're awesome, and have been from the very beginning.

This post is included in Finer Things Friday, because growing boys are a fine thing.
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