My baby turned 21 on the 16th.
My little boy.
I can't believe he's already 21 years old.
Trite as it sounds, it really does go by So Fast!

When he was a wee one, he was a major handful. He emerged from the womb kicking and screaming and stayed that mad for about four years. We called him Gozer the Gozerian and Hell Baby. If it was sharp, poisonous or on fire, he was all over it.

One day, when I had the audacity to go to the bathroom by myself, I came out to find he had stripped naked, climbed to the top shelf of the pantry, and tossed the (glass) bottle of canola oil to the floor. No, that wasn't just last week; he was about a year and a half old when he did that. So here I come, around the corner, and find him like that, naked and clinging to the shelves, the kitchen floor covered with about a half an inch of oil and a zillion shards of glass. Oh, did I mention I was running a daycare at the time? How many of those kids do you think also headed for the kitchen to check out the show?

Koby helped me a lot in entertaining the daycare kids. He showed them how to bypass the security clips on the cupboard doors to get to the box of "shiny popsicles" (ant stakes) and how if you laid down on your belly and reached under the edge of the dishwasher, you could use your tiny fingers to pry out hidden clumps of old dishwasher detergent (?!?) because, evidently, they are a delicacy to babies.

My first kid was so easy. This one? By the time he was two I'd had to call the Poison Control Center three times!

Koby's early school years were spent half in public school (where they wanted to exorcise him) and half in home school (where he flourished). His dad taught him for fourth grade, then I taught fifth and sixth. By seventh grade Koby was yearning for peer association, so he went back into public school. In spite of my protests, he insisted this was what he wanted. I told him school was no place for socializing, it was for academics, but he insisted. I gave in, telling him that what he starts he must finish so there was no going back on the deal or screwing off with his work once he was in. When we picked him up after school that first day back he jumped in the car and declared, "Get Me Out Of Here! The kids are so rude! Everyone just yells and messes around and you can't hear the teachers, even if they yell, 'SHUT UP!'"

Sorry, kid. You made your decision.

Then came the teenage years. Turbulence doesn't describe it, but it wasn't because of Koby. Life tossed us over the waterfall and tumbled us around, over and under the rocks. I had to pull him back out of eighth grade when I learned he was failing (failing?!) and they were going to pass him along into ninth anyway. Over my dead body! I brought him home, gave him an assessment test, and began at the beginning to cover all seventh/eighth grade material he had not absorbed at the junior high. It took longer, but that wasn't the point. Life at home had been like a 9.0 earthquake, so it wasn't a big surprise to me that Koby was having trouble paying attention at school, but I knew he was smart and with patience and perseverance we would get through it and get him educated. By the following year he was ready to enter high school.

Koby's teenage years were rough but we clung together, sometimes biting and scratching, and made it through without either of us drowning. Now he has grown into an ossum man with so much wisdom and strength. He makes me very, very proud.

One of the traditions in our family is that the birthday king (or queen) gets to choose what we'll all have for dinner. This year he wanted raviolis and lasagna. Yes, both. At the same time. So that's what we all got. He loaded the disk changer up with Mob Hits, Louie Prima and Dean Martin and we lip-sinced at each other across the table. As the meal wound down and we lounged over dessert and coffee, he looked at me with a satisfied smile and said, "Now this is what dinner is supposed to be like."

At the end of the month he's moving out. Not far away like my other boy, thank goddess, but I'll still miss him. Koby is hilarious, artistic, musical, helpful and responsible (the latter being an adjective I apply to him with a great sigh of relief). I'll miss the way he can make a drink squirt out of my nose without notice.


Anonymous said...

Nooooo, he can't be 21 - he is just the baby that makes us the margaritas - not the one who drinks 'em!


Anonymous said...

OMG, pass the Kleenex. You sure can write.

Happy Birthday to the Big Guy!