16 Years of Stretch

Stretch final

A few months back, when I hit my 100th post, I wrote about the 10 most important things in my life. One of those was my son, called here on the blog “Stretch.” I have called him that because he’s so damn tall. At almost 6′ 7″, he towers over me.

Here’s what I wrote then: I can say that there are few people I would rather spend time with than Stretch. His interests are many of mine and many of mine are his as well. The terrifying thing is the limited amount of time we have with him before he head off to college. While talking about his college plans this weekend and also talking – as we always do – about the upcoming Bronco season, we realized that next season will be his last at home. Wow. I can honestly say I am not ready to see him go, despite joking that I will change the locks on the occasion of his 18th birthday and he will find his stuff neatly piled on the porch!  I am not ready.

Today, he turns 16 years old. I can say many things about him.

  • He makes me proud. Every day.
  • He’s compassionate and he’s kind.
  • He is one of the funniest kids I know.
  • He is passionate about his interests, especially sports.
  • He is very smart.
  • He is amazingly good tempered.
  • He loves his family – especially his brother and sister.

Stretch knows more about sports than I do. He has broader interest in far more of them and in encyclopedic in his knowledge of them. I have to pretend a lot when I watch a game with him, especially a soccer match when the time moves into what The Cinnamon Girl calls the “Secret Minutes,” the extra time at the end of the game.

When we used to go weekly to Stretch’s soccer matches when he was a kid, we would count the times that he – single-handedly- would add to those Secret Minutes by feigning injury. He had a talent for it. He could take a fall unlike any other player on his team – the lightest contact with an opposing player would send him flying, clutching his knee as he rolled around on the turf, delaying the game. The first few times I saw him do this, I had to resist my urge to run on the field to see if he was okay. I learned my lesson. Perhaps Stretch should look into acting.

I know a lot of teenagers. As a high school teacher, I encounter them every day of my professional life. I am not unbiased, to be sure, but I can honestly say that Stretch is one of the most polite and well mannered kids I know. He makes his step mom and me proud everyday.

When his mother and I chose to advance him a year in school (not only is he gigantic now, we was off the charts as a child and, when he scored very, very high on his kindergarten testing , we made the determination to move him right into first grade), we couldn’t anticipate then what a good decision that would be. Because of who he is, not just how big he is, one would never guess that he’s going to turn 17 in May of his senior year of high school just prior to his graduation. His maturity and demeanor is really a gift. I trust we made a good decision all those years back. I think we did.

16 is a rite of passage, a door through which we all walk and never turn back. Stretch is ready. He is ready to be older, to be driving, to reach further into an independent world. He is not a little boy anymore, not my little boy anymore. I have incredible faith in him.

No matter what comes,  Stretch, no matter what you do, no matter where life takes you, I will always love you, always be proud of you and always consider you one of my best friends.

I love you.

Happy Birthday.

Manning Shirts


1 Comment

Filed under Family, Fathers and Sons, Teaching

One response to “16 Years of Stretch

  1. Pingback: Stretch Turns 19 | And There Came a Day...

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