Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Suddenly Sixteen

I was warned that this would happen. And today was that day: my firstborn son turned sixteen. Sixteen. How did the time fly by so quickly?

Oh, it wasn’t always quick. Not the nights that I woke up to feed him or soothe him, to comfort him when he was feverish or, perhaps, entertain him when bored. He was my firstborn, and I was new at mothering. I’m sure it was my own fault that he didn’t sleep through the night until he was two years old. I ran to him at the first whimper.

Each year had its challenges. Each year had its accomplishments. Walking, running, talking. Learning to read. Learning to ride a bike. Building his first computer (!!).

Ah, how I beamed when I went with him on his first youth mission trip to Mexico with Global Expeditions and we finally spent quality one-on-one time, just the two of us, during the plane rides, the layovers, and the week that we had at home alone because Dad and the girls were out of town. He was fourteen then, and I could have a conversation with him – finally – without being interrupted.

And then, after that mission trip, he got on an airplane alone and flew to Ukraine. Alone. Yes, unescorted - at fourteen! Then a few months later, he flew cross-country to San Diego, again alone, and went on another youth mission trip to Mexico, but this time without me.

And the next year, at fifteen, he went to Guatemala on another mission trip, again by himself, without a family member or friend. He had been the child who was too timid to go to a birthday party without Mom when he was five. I was awed by the change, by his growth, by reports of how helpful he was on his mission trips.

Today was the big day. Sixteen. And you know what that means: a learner’s permit. Yes, we went to the Department of Motor Vehicles this morning before it opened and stood in line so he could get his permit first thing.

But, no, I did not let him drive home. Yet.

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)