My middle child, Jack, is twelve today. 12! Hard to believe.
From the moment he came into this world, very late (or early, as it were) on a Saturday, I had a feeling he'd be a whirlwind. I was 37 weeks along when I felt a contraction while getting ready for bed. It was about 11:15 at night. Back labor is not pretty. By 2am, I was 8 centimeters and barely had time for that sweet, sweet epidural. He was born just 27 minutes later. Fast and furious, he didn't waste his time being born. The only thing he slowed down for was sleep. From just 3 weeks old, he was sleeping through the night. He played hard, and crashed hard. That was a blessing. To this day, he never has a problem falling asleep.
He was also born with a confidence, a self-assuredness that continues to surprise me. We always have a "Jack story" to tell at holidays and get-togethers.
Like the time when Jack was two, and heard me on the phone. I was in the middle of a conversation, saying "Can you believe that son of a ..." I stopped short of saying a bad word when I saw him toddle into the room. He stopped, looked up at me, and said "bitch, mama. Son of a bitch." And continued on his way.
Or the time when he was five. His older brother was at his friend Nick's house. Nick's mom and I were making plans to all meet up for dinner. It was a well known fact that Jack had a crush on his mom (Kris). So when our phone rang, and her name came up on the caller ID, I handed the phone to Jack. He said, "Hi Krissy!" "Hi Jack!" she said, "Hey, buddy, I'm gonna get Nick and Connor and we're all gonna meet down at Wings for dinner, okay?"
Jack responded, "Okay, but why don't you leave that husband of yours at home."
Or the time when he was six, and I took him to get a haircut. The hairdresser was young and pretty. Jack was talking her ear off. "We're just about done," she said to him. "Okay," he answered. "What time do you get off work?" She smiled, "eight o'clock. Why?"
"Do you like Sponge Bob?" Jack asked her. "Sure!" she played along.
"Well, you wanna come over and watch some Sponge Bob with me?"
Or when he was in the third grade, and one of the girls in his class was getting picked on at recess. She was surrounded by a group of girls, frightened. Jack stepped in, took her hand, told those girls to deal with him next time, and walked her out of there. When he got home from school, I asked how his day had been. "Fine." was all he said.
Later, I got two calls. The first was from the Principal telling me that Jack was called in to tell his side of the story. She told me what a fine young man I was raising. The second call came from the girl's father. He called to thank me for raising a brave, young gentleman. He was grateful that Jack had been there that day. Jack thought nothing of it. He saw someone getting picked on, and he stepped in to help out.
Jack has a compassion for others who can't stand up for themselves. He is a protector by nature and won't accept anyone making fun of kids who are different, and won't let their differences stop him from sitting with them at lunch, or helping them with school work.
There are certain people who just light up a room. That's Jack. He has a way of making everyone around him feel special. His energy, confidence, charisma and charm are unmatched.
Happy Birthday Jack. You are so special. I have no doubt that you are going to make something very big of yourself. We butt heads, we argue, I get thoroughly exhausted - mentally and physically. And some days are just a pure challenge, I'll give you that. But you are the child of my heart.
When I was growing up, my mom used to say to me, "Just you wait! You're going to grow up and have a child just like you!" Back then, I just rolled my eyes. Now I know exactly what she meant. That's my Jack. Creative, passionate, energetic, and sometimes, just not fully understood.
What a huge responsibility I have ahead of me - to mold you into the very best of all that you are. I am so lucky to be the one who gets the pleasure of watching you grow into the amazingly talented, confident, compassionate man I know you will become. And then, maybe, helping you get through those years of raising one of your own...; )