Celebrating Number Eighteen

Yes.  It’s true.

The boy really did turn eighteen last week, which is basically the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of, because just ten minutes ago, he was an eight year old, pretending to be Indiana Jones with his buddies, as they wore satchels (which should never be confused with purses), strapped across their chests.  They carried toy knives and jumped the split-rail fence in our side yard and carried on like eight year old hooligans SHOULD, and they asked for those packages of chewy fruit snacks when they were hungry.

And now the kid is eighteen.  Chewy fruit snacks are for babies, and the only snack he ever wants is a six-layer sandwich — four layers of meat and two layers of cheese — an hour before dinner, because, as he says, “I still have sixty minutes to work up another appetite, Ma; don’t worry, because it’ll arrive on time.”  He keeps talking about WHERE HE WANTS TO GO TO COLLEGE and also WHAT HE WANTS TO MAJOR IN, and all I can say is, “Slow down.  Let Mama breathe.  Let’s just take our senior year one day at a time, before Mama needs to hang her head between her knees to recover from hyperventilation.”

We had a low-key eighteenth birthday, because my adult child (I still laugh when I call him an adult; don’t judge me.  He made coffee last weekend and left the half and half carton on the kitchen counter all morning.  Apparently, part of his adult role was to turn thick milk into thicker cottage cheese, as he rationalized the fact that he FORGOT to put it back in the refrigerator.) has responsibilities this summer like… well... a real adult.  He has been opening the golf course, which requires him to get up at 5:30 in the morning.  He’s been working fifty to fifty-two hours a week, because apparently this is what is called GOLF SEASON in some parts of the United States, with our part being one of them.  He’s been going to high school golf practice, which runs through dinner, and there sits his empty chair at our table… again.  He’s been getting up at 4:00 in the morning, to catch buses bound for golf tournaments at 4:45 in the morning.  And so, when we sat down to see what we might possibly be able to swing for a birthday celebration, we discovered that we “had an hour here, thirty minutes there, or ninety minutes here.”

And that all screamed out, “We will do something small.”

So that’s exactly what we did, in between golf practice and his job.

The boy woke up last Wednesday morning, and there he was:  our eighteen year old.  I had just said goodnight to a little boy a few hours earlier, and I woke up to a man standing in my kitchen, hoping that there were some cool presents for him to open.

We actually bought the boy a REAL BOOK for his birthday, because (and please sit down, so you can take this in)… HE… ASKED… FOR… ONE.

I know.

Hubs and I were stunned, too.  As of May, this child had never read a book that wasn’t required reading for school.  He announced his hatred for reading early on in life, which I could never understand.  How can a kid who reads at the college level in elementary school HATE IT?!  And then in June, the boy picked up a book and announced that he had changed his ways and now he likes to read.

I don’t even pretend to understand him, but I’m going with this one, because it’s READING, PEOPLE.  My boy is reading, and that was one of my life’s goals for him.  So when he asked for the book The Godfather, you can bet that Hubs and I immediately jumped on Amazon to buy it for him.  Read away, child; read away!

That little brother right there was having a powerfully difficult time coming to terms with the fact that HE had no presents to open, because this wasn’t his birthday.  It’s so hard to be six and watch someone else open a stack of gifts.

And then the boy opened a couple of Ralph Lauren shirts, which are his love language.  If his mama won’t buy him Cuban cigars, then at least he’s happy with the fact that she bought him Ralph Lauren shirts for his birthday.

Thing 2 gave the boy a gift card to get new shoes with.  What he REALLY wanted to buy Bubbie for his birthday was a giant set of Legos, but his mother suggested a gift card, so that the boy could pick out the shoes he’s had his eyes trained on.  Thing 2 was content with that.

And then our friends, Keith and Carrie, sent the boy a T-shirt.  It has become a running joke that Keith and Carrie will send SOMETHING related to Big Foot, because the boy, Hubs and Keith are convinced that they could actually find one, if they tried.  They are convinced that the men who film TV shows on searching for Big Foot are nothing but untrained amateurs, who make a joke of the sport of hunting.  Hubs, Keith and the boy are absolutely convinced that THEY are basically Navy SEALS, and they could bag a twelve-foot hairy beast, if they ever decided to load up their infrared cameras and their ghillie suits.

These are two college-educated men and a high school senior who scored in the top 95% of the nation’s teenagers on his ACT exam.

And they believe in Big Foot.

Don’t judge them; they each have OTHER fine qualities.

The boy is always thrilled with Keith and Carrie’s selection, and this year’s turnout didn’t disappoint.

Mam and Pa gave the boy some new bedding, which might sound boring to your typical teenager, but the boy was downright excited about it.  In fact, he was downright HAPPY to have a new quilt for his bed!

This probably has everything to do with the fact that the last quilt I bought the boy was a Star Wars quilt from Pottery Barn Kids… when he was eight!  I think he was excited for a new decade and a bedding upgrade, fit for a REAL GROWNUP.

Yes, these two really DO like each other.

Mama took them out and made them both smile for some TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY pictures.  Thing 2 kept asking, “Why do I have to have MY picture taken?  It’s not MY birthday!”  In other words, what fresh hell was I putting him through, making him pose for pictures in the tall grass, when he wasn’t the one getting the presents?

Hubs and I managed to get the boy to a posh little restaurant in town, for a birthday lunch last Wednesday.  It was the best we could do, because high school golf practice sucks up the dinner hour every evening.

We took the boys in and told Thing 2, “Please pretend you’re high class while we’re in here.  Don’t make weird train whistles at the table and don’t bring shame upon your family by leaning back in your chair and tipping the entire thing over.”


Thing 2 had a grilled chicken breast, a dinner salad and apples with yogurt dip.  He declared it to be the best grilled chicken he’d ever tasted, and announced that he loves expensive restaurants!

The boy, who was in the throes of a major appetite, had an enormous steak and mashed potatoes, along with a bowl of gumbo soup and a creme brulee for dessert.  When he had finished eating, he announced that he was stuffed…

… but not stuffed like the all-you-can-eat crab legs and lobster dinner stuffed, from our trip to Bigger Town last month.

He was still able to leave the restaurant and go straight to high school golf practice, without needing to lie down and moan while he digested.  CLEARLY he wasn’t as stuffed as he was after the crab and lobster meal!

That night, when we finally got the boy home… when it was already Thing 2’s bedtime… we had family over for a little late-night cake and ice cream.  Our cute neighbor boy’s girlfriend, who bakes amazing cakes as a part-time job, did a chocolate cake for the boy this year.  It was one of those THICK, DENSE cakes, with layers of cream cheese SOMETHING in the middle, and all I wanted to do was put my entire face into that cake.


We sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our ADULT SON, and everyone moaned over how wonderful the cake tasted.

And that, y’all, was his eighteenth birthday.  It was low key.  It was filled with good food, good desserts and good family.  In other words… I think it was perfect.

A few days later, when we found a spot for an actual DINNER TOGETHER, Grammy and Papa had us out to their house in Small Mountain Town.  Grammy couldn’t decide between cooking crab legs and steaks or chicken cordon bleu and wild rice.  Those are two of the boy’s most favorite meals, and he couldn’t even pick which one sounded better.

So… chicken cordon bleu it was.

And then Grammy made a chocolate sour cream cake, and I’m not even going to lie.  It tasted like Cake Heaven.

There were more Ralph Lauren shirts, because the boy is predictable, and the boy loves Ralph Lauren shirts!  Grammy knew that he wouldn’t mind having a couple more to hang in his closet.

With our bellies full, we all sat around and watched Thing 2 hop in and out of Grammy and Papa’s tiny pond.  He caught a frog and twenty-seven water skippers that night.

And THAT,  y’all, was how we rang in NUMBER EIGHTEEN.

Our ADULT child has been nothing but a dream come true to his parents, except for when he leaves the half and half out on the kitchen counter and ruins all of our coffee dreams for the next morning.  He is good and kind; his heart is so tender and compassionate.  He is a person Jesus is proud of.  He is a person who makes his parents and grandparents clap with joy.

And he enjoys reading now, too.

In other words, he’s a keeper.

Happy eighteenth birthday, to our favorite big boy!

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