August 8, 2000. 4:47 PM.

That little preemie of ours had a bit of a rough spell when he first came into this world. He decided that his lungs just weren’t ready to breathe on their own, what with his being early and all.

Really, Hubs and I know that he was just plotting and planning his very first airplane ride on Day One, because his pediatrician life-flighted him out of Small Town, USA, and she sent him to Bigger Town, where he was connected to every tube and wire imaginable.

Hubs flew with that new boy of ours. Everyone in the family was a bit nervous for Hubs to go alone with the baby, because Hubs had always said in the past, “Babies are like soda crackers; they all look exactly alike.” I told Hubs, “Please do not, under any circumstances, lose track of our baby. Make sure that you always know which one is ours.” My mom told Hubs, “If you lose that baby in the big hospital, I’ll take you behind the barn and beat you.” Hubs’ own mother told him, “Keep an eye out for which baby is yours.”

Hubs called me from the hospital in Bigger Town, because I was still in the Small Town hospital, and he said, “Guess what? There is absolutely no way that I’ll lose our boy, because he’s the biggest baby in this NICU! The nurses started calling him Tank, because they don’t ever have anyone in here who weighs anything close to what our guy weighs! He’s four pounds bigger than the babies on either side of him! I’ll just keep track of the big baby, and I won’t get him mixed up with the three-pounders. Oh, and I don’t think I like the nurses here who keep calling my boy Tank. I may have to speak with them. He only weighs seven pounds, seven ounces! That’s not a tank!”

Eventually, the boy’s kidneys kicked themselves into gear, because they decided not to work in the beginning either, so he was very swollen and packed with fluid. Once he started to soak his Pampers, that boy of ours shriveled down to six pounds, ten ounces. And even though Hubs and I thought he was super scrawny and tiny, he was still twice as big as his roommates!

Two weeks after he flew to Bigger Town, the boy got to come home. For good. He was happy. He was healthy. He was perfect.

Eventually, he grew a little bigger, and decided that he loved phones. Phones, vacuums, tools, and TV remotes.

His passion for dressing up started at a very young age. He loved to adorn himself with whatever was handy. He was continually emerging from his bedroom, wrapped in blankets or wearing his daddy’s hats.

He had some orange work goggles, which he wore for days on end.

For his second birthday, Hubs and I gave him a yellow hard hat. He wore it every single day, for weeks, that summer.

And then he discovered a pair of blue swim goggles. Hubs and I became so accustomed to seeing the boy in the blue goggles, that, on the rare occasion when he took them off, we almost didn’t recognize him.

He used every square inch of his big bed. Hubs and I always joked about how we pitied his future wife, because that boy of ours rolls when he sleeps. And he flops when he sleeps. And he twists when he sleeps. And sometimes he wakes up with his head at the foot of the bed. We had to have side rails on his bed, just to keep him from plummeting to the hardwood floor below.

He gained an appreciation for sugar at a very early age. He still considers sugar to be one of his favorite foods.

Hubs and I have always encouraged the boy to take part in good oral hygiene, but we failed somewhere along the way…

Oh, I jest. That boy of ours has not had a single cavity. Not one. Zip. Zilch. Zero. He’s very good at brushing the sugar off of his molars.

Cat 1, who is awfully naughty, used to be an adorable kitten when we first brought her home. She used to snuggle with the boy. Then, when she was about three months old, she copped an attitude, and she quit snuggling with the boy. It broke his heart. Now, Cat 1 just wants to bite people and eat their livers. Enter Cat 2. The boy had to have a kitty to snuggle, and Cat 2 fits the bill.

Eventually, the boy went to kindergarten, and I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I would love to post a kindergarten picture, but our hard drive crashed that year. And someone hadn’t backed it up. It’s the Episode of Which Hubs and I Do Not Speak Of, because I still cry when I think of all of those kindergarten pictures that evaporated into thin air.

And then the boy went to first grade, and I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “I can live with this. Kindergarten didn’t kill me after all.”

And then he went to second grade, and he grew great big permanent teeth in his mouth. He still ate a lot of sugar that year. He still brushed well that year. He learned big things at school.

And then the boy went to third grade, and goodness! Third grade sounded like an enormously big kid, so I did some more sobbing when I sent him off. That boy was halfway through elementary school.

And now? Well, our little punk is going to start the 4th grade in less than three weeks. 4th grade is going to put me in the nut house, because I can barely take the fact that we have just two more years left before junior high. I am already dreading the tears that the first day of 4th grade is going to invoke me.

He also grew his hair out this summer. Gone is the neat, tidy, Ralph Lauren private school look, which I loved. He’s got a gloriously shaggy mane of hair now, and he loves it.

And today? Well, today our boy is ten years old. We have hit the double digits, which was a little hard for me to take.

This boy of ours is one special kid. He still eats copious amounts of sugar, which he still manages to brush off of his teeth. He reads incredibly big words. He can solve enormously huge math problems in his head. In fact, our boy scored in the top of the 99th percentile, nationwide, in math. He can smack a golf ball really far. He talks to Jesus all the time. He builds structures out of Legos that defy gravity. He holds the high score at every video game he’s ever played. He can eat five hardshell tacos in one sitting. He loves to fish so much, he completely loses track of the time, when he’s at the pond. He loves his friends and his family dearly. He has one of the sweetest, gentlest hearts I’ve ever seen in a little boy. He hates to take the garbage out. He still holds my hand when we walk downtown together, but he won’t hold my hand when we’re near any of his buddies. Hubs and I think he’s perfect.

Dear Boy,
I’m not sure that God could have chosen a more perfect child to gift your daddy and I with. Our family was completed when you were born. Our hearts grew a hundred sizes with the love we felt for you then, and they’ve continued to grow every day since. You are one of the most unique little fellows we’ve ever met, and we are so stinking proud of you. Happy birthday. We love you tons, and we think you’re the best kid we’ve ever met.
Mama and Daddy

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