Twelve years ago, at this exact time, you entered my life, all screaming & gooey. I remember it as though it were yesterday.
You were actually due the day before. When it turned out to be another 22 hours before you forcibly brought out into the world, I should have known you inherited my stubbornness. You spent the next day or so in the NICU, warming yourself in the incubator &, I suspect, loving every bit of attention everyone gave you, a trait you definitely didn't get from me.
Since the day God graced me with you I've watched you grow & explore & learn. I've seen your low points (remember the remote controlled dinosaur that didn't quite measure up to the images on the box?) & have cried when you've been hurt. I've seen the high points in your life, as well (remember that amazing catch you made as the catcher on your baseball team?). I've cheered for you & have watched with pride & the widest smile ever seen as you've accomplished so many things in your life: your first words; your first steps; your acheivements in school & sports.
You may not know it, but I sit & watch you sometimes, whether your playing with your friends or mastering some video game or reading or watching a movie or whatever you may be doing. I wonder what goes on in your head, what you're thinking about. What thoughts are bouncing around in there, kiddo? I'm sure there's some that I don't want to know about, but still...
I love your ability to talk to people & make friends. I both love & fear the fact that you know no strangers; everyone is your friend. I remember that when you were little, I never had to worry about you wandering out the door when we'd go to the grocery store because everybody that worked at the checkouts knew you & watched out for you. I pray that you never lose that ability or your love for people. Take it from someone who knows - it's hard to get by in this world when you can't communicate with others. And it's a lonely existence if you can't make friends.
I love playing games with you (yes, even when you whip me good - except for the BMX game, in which I get the chance to whup you; I rule that game with an iron sceptor!) & all the teasing & trash talking we do. I've loved playing basketball with you & all the teasing & trash talking that goes along with that, as well. I realize that we haven't done a lot of that lately, & for that I am sorry. I want you to have great memories of us doing things together & I promise to shoot more hoops with you & go to the batting cages more often & to finally get those fishing poles ready & put them to good use.
Twelve years. You're almost a young man now, on the cusp of embarking on a new chapter in your life. I look to the next few years of your life with a mixture of excitement & dread. I'm eager to see where your life will take you, but I also know that my little boy won't be, well...so little anymore. You won't be as dependent on me as you have been over the previous years. You'll start making more & more of your own decisions as you get older. You'll want less & less of my input in things, for a while at least. Y'know what, though? I'll be proud of you. I'll be proud of you because you became a person who could think for themself & make their own choices.
I've rambled now far longer than I thought I would, but I really want you to understand that, no matter how aggravated I may get at times, no matter how many times you try to argue or negotiate your way out of things, & no matter how many nights spent doing homework we may endure, I am truly so happy that you're my son.
I love you more than you'll ever know.
Happy birthday, son!