Thursday, April 18, 2013

Son, Now That You're 18, There Are Things You Should Know

Dear beautiful firstborn child,

Happy birthday!

Today you turn 18. As the dedicated parents we are, we know that to serve you well, there are some things that we need to tell you. The most important being that your father and I truly adore you. You make us beam with pride and we are beyond fortunate to be your parents.

When you walk into a room, it's hard for me to not stand up shouting "It's him!" and start clapping -- so I've quit trying to stop myself. Your father's punch to your arm is his way of saying he loves his world because you're in it.

And today you turn 18.

As of 1:39 pm today, I will be living with two men.

You'll be leaving for college much too soon and I'm going to stick my head in the sand about that for awhile longer, but in the meantime, your father and I would be doing you a great injustice if we did not tell you the things you need to know now that you're an adult.

Please keep this information from your younger brothers awhile longer, won't you? Here we go:

The Truth You Need To Know Now That You're 18:

  • When we ask you "Were you born in a barn?," we really don't care what you answer. We only care that you close the doors because the cold air gets in and we pay for heat. That's all. I'm not even really sure about the paying for heat part, but your dad says it because his dad said it. One day, you'll say it too.
  • No one has a money tree. I know we ask you to "look outside, you see a money tree out there?" like some people have them and some people don't. We are sorry if we ever made you hope that maybe someday we'd be a family that had one.
  • I know we've told you "the trouble with trouble is that it starts out as fun." Not true. When you get to college you'll realize much too soon, trouble usually starts out as trouble right off the bat.
  • You really won't fry your eyes out and need new eyeballs put in if you sit too close to the TV. It may affect your vision if you spend megahours doing it and you're superyoung. But for the most part, you don't need to go out and buy that eyeball surgery insurance.
  • Wet socks will give you Vietnam rot. Lord help me I don't know why we'd say that to you when you'd walk in soaking wet after a soccer game. Seriously. All we had to do was say "take off your wet socks." And also, as if you wouldn't??
  • Getting a cavity hurts worse than I can ever tell you. Well, it hurts a little. We just wanted you to brush your teeth. Sure, if you let it go long enough it will, but you guys just keep brushing and flossing twice a day and seeing the dentist every six months and you're good to go. 
  • Monkey see. Monkey do. Have you ever seen this at a zoo? No. Not too much imitating. Mostly just ignoring us and random screeching once in awhile. We'd say that when we didn't want you to be a sheep following the pack. Just be yourself, never mind the monkeys.
  • Don't read on your back with your book held up in front of you. I don't why the hell not. Ignore this from the past 18 years. 
  • If you ever decide to smoke a cigarette be sure to have a cellphone in one hand ready to dial 911 and a cigarette in the other because you'll hear your lungs crackle as they burn up. YES. I KNOW WE SAID THIS. Please try to forget the visual we've scarred you with for life and just know this: cigarettes are bad for your health, not overnight, but cumulatively. And you can spend your money on organic broccoli and pesto instead. Better choices, see? 
  • And how many times have you heard this one? You are the most wonderful beautiful smartest boy in the world. Well, maybe not to other parents, but to us, YOU ARE. 

Happy birthday, wonderful child, we are proud to say that you are our son (this one? so true).

* * * 
Want to read more on teen parenting? 
--You can catch me here this week on mommy. com  talking about Society and Raising Boys.
--And here on Care. com where they interview me and ask about our house rules for teens and cell phones.


  1. I can so so relate the the love in that opening. What a handsome intelligent face on your boy!

  2. Happy 18th Birthday, young man!
    And happy 18 years of motherhood, Alexandra.

  3. I don't know why, but I got a little choked up on this one. I think it's the image of you standing up and clapping when he walks in the room. I so totally get that. Aren't we so lucky, Alexandra, to LIKE our kids that much?
    You did good, Mama. You did good.

  4. Oh happy birthday to him! I hope he feels as loved as we readers know he is from your words. We say really silly things and then have to come clean. Well, maybe not on all of it.

  5. Happy Birthday! We love you soooooooooo much!

  6. awww, love this! he is a beautiful, wonderful man and that's due in part to YOU, obviously!!!

  7. Going away to university is the best thing that could happen to an 18 year old. It's where we find our life-long friends. It's where we learn leadership or sheepism. It's where we grow as a person precisely because our parents aren't around telling us what not to do or what to do. He will come out a better person than when he went in, Alexandra. You have to believe that.


  8. Happy Birthday to your love! It is funny, I have been thinking of emailing you to ask how I DO this parenting a teenage boy thing. I think I might need some pointers beyond your list that you just debunked! Love it!

  9. Aw, Happy Birthday to your son, A. What a great photo of the two of you. "Viet Nam rot" kills me. ;) And yeah, why don't they ever close the dang doors. xx

  10. Happy, happy birthday and cheers all around! (Now, Mom, go put your feet up for a while...)


  11. Happy happy birthday to your boy! Oh, they grow up too darn fast. :(

    But delighted that he's become a wonderful young man who knows he wasn't born in a barn and that money doesn't grow on trees!

  12. Yikeroo: he looks like Ewan McGregor in that photo. Happy birthday to your beautiful boy!

  13. Vietnam rot? Bwhahahah!!!
    Happy Birthday and listen to your Mom.

  14. I was struck, too, by Vietnam rot? And then by the fact that that I don't really have any of those sayings, except for, "Please don't do anything crazy while i"m gone." Not that they listen. And as my older son reminds me, at 19 he doesn't HAVE to listen.

  15. ACK! How did this happen? How did he grow up and get TALL??? NOOOOOOO! Happy Birthday, Largest Empress Offspring. You're tearing my heart out here because I'll be making this post myself in 5 1/2 years. WAAAAH!!!! Noooooo!!!

  16. Happy Belated Birthday! And also the reason you shouldn't read on your back holding a book in front of you is that you're likely to drop the book on your face and it hurts. The same is true for cell phones. Not that this has ever happened to me or anything.

  17. Love, love this. And I love that photo of the two of you.

  18. Happy, happy birthday to your gorgeous man. I still remember how you wrote in a comment to me long ago the day you cried when you were doing laundry and you realized your son's jeans were longer than yours. I think of that image often, as I am doing now. What a milestone. I love that college age - so much potential!

    Hugs to you, dear mom.


    We figured it was high time we let him know, your face really won't freeze that way when you make that face.


  20. That was delightful! I can't believe some of the things you told him (and the other 2) but they're hysterical. I wish my mother had been more like you.

  21. Happy (belated) Birthday to your handsome son! YOU WIN at mothering because of who you are as much as the son you have raised! If he's anything like you, he's an outstanding young man. :-)

  22. Happy Birthday handsome young man! (Standing up clapping, "he's here!") :-)



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