Tag Archives: son’s birthday

20/20 Vision – Happy Birthday, Stretch


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MatthewStretch turns 20 today. 10 x 2. 5 x 4. 2 decades.

I do not know how this happened so quickly.

I do not know where kid went, the one who, as a toddler, would wake up incredibly early – we are talking before 5:00am here – and drag me out of bed to play with his “guys” (his little plastic football players).

I do not know where that same kid who wanted to play every sport imaginable for as long as the days, weeks and seasons would last has gone.

I do not know where the boy who would sit in front of a computer screen playing “Backyard Football” hour-after-hour has run of to or where the kid who was sure he was going to be an NFL wide receiver or tight end has flown.

I have been looking for the guy who sat next to me at the conclusion of a frigid cold, heartbreaking Denver Bronco loss with a tear literally freezing running down his cheek.

Likewise, I have been searching out the student who sometimes asked me to read his papers and asked for help on his homework.

High and low I have sought the 6 foot 7, red robe wearing graduate I hugged as he walked across a special stage.

What I have found in these searches – what I have found with this new 20/20 vision of Stretch  now that he is 20 – is a young man on his way to adulthood. Well on his way.

I have found a young man upon whom others rely.

I have found a young man who cares deeply about his world and those around him.

I have found a prayerful young man, a passionate young man, a smart young man.

I have found a young man who it is both honor and privilege to call “son.”

And I have found just how lucky we, his bonus mom, his brother and sister and I are that he is in our family.

Happy birthday, Stretch. Many, many, many returns.

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Stretch Turns 19


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More than a few words on Stretch today on the occasion of his 19th birthday:

Our kid has grown into a fine young man. Caring and compassionate, Stretch  is the type of guy who holds open the door, who asks if he can help, who genuinely cares. I don’t know how much his parents have had to do with making him who he is, I just feel both profoundly lucky and profoundly blessed that he’s become the man he has.

We miss him when he’s away at school.

Stretch loves sports, I mean LOVES sports. The Cinnamon Girl notes that he will turn on the television for anything involving a bat, a bat or a coach. She’s right.

He loves his family and truly takes joy from being with and teasing Sous Chef and HJ jr. He shares the same enthusiasm for his cousins, even when they are hanging all over his arms and legs as if they were limbs of a tree.

He loves his girlfriend friends and we delight in getting to know them through his stories of them.

He loves a good joke, a good laugh, a good moment.

And I love being around him and, as I’ve said many, many times, it’s my privilege to be his dad.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you and I love you and I love you (should go on 19 times).

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19 Years … My God, That’s Almost 20!


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There are more than a few things that make me feel my age, but nothing does so more poignantly than marking the passage of time by the years my kids have been on the planet.

HJ jr turns 19 today. Could anyone, please, tell me how that happened?

I’ve never met anyone like HJ jr. Intelligent and funny, he sees the world in a manner that no one else I’ve ever met does and I often leave a conversation with him thinking how much different or how much better the world would be if more people viewed it the way he does.

He is passionate about what he believes – he caucused for Bernie Sanders this year!

He is driven by his interests – he built his own (gigantic and fully functional) computer from the ground up.

He is the most reflective and thoughtful person his age I know.

He is on the journey that is challenging and necessary as he approaches his (gulp!) adulthood!

I am lucky to have HJ jr as my “bonus” son and my life would be so much less rich without him.

Happy 19th and remember, there are no cars in Australia.

Good night.

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HJ Jr Turns 18 Today

March 9 has not been just a day on the calendar since I married The Cinnamon Girl almost ten years ago now, though one member of the household has continually tried to down play its significance. Though his brother and sister and his mother and I would love to make a bigger deal about his birthday – especially THIS one, his 18th – we (primarily) will follow his wishes on this day of all days.

HJ jr is pleased to be 18. He’s looking forward to the next steps in his life – to his graduation from high school and his entrance into college and the slow opening of the wider world. He’s ready, mainly because The Cinnamon Girl has done such a great job raising him. He knows he’s ready.

But he doesn’t like to have a fuss made about him. He doesn’t seek the spotlight. He doesn’t want many words about him said or written. He certainly doesn’t want ANY singing.

Indy Fall 2014

There are so many things about HJ jr that impress me. There are so many things about him that astound me. He’s one of the most self-assured kids I’ve ever known. He is introspective and reflective. He is not afraid to hold opinions somewhat outside the Venn Diagram of “traditional” thought. He is unintimidated.  He’s brave. He is knowledgeable and ready to share. He is special and is in the process of becoming something extraordinary.

I love this kid – this young man – and it’s been one of the great privileges of the last decade of my life to be in his.

Happy Birthday, HJ jrI can’t promise I won’t sing to you. I can’t promise I won’t say “I love you.”

Because I do.

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Stretch… Now Think About Not Going To College.

Today, Stretch turns 17.

God in Heaven.

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Sunday, he graduates high school. That’s another post for another day (to be written embracing a box of Kleenex).

Here’s the deal, kid: how about considering not going to college? How about staying home? You know, with me?

(You will be with your other family members, too, of course…)

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When you skipped kindergarten, middle school seemed a million years away. High school? An eternity.

Now, we looking at you moving off to school in a few short months at 17 years-old.

Sure, I could have, I should have seen this coming. But, the years, man, they travel fast.

One day you’d be 3 and you’d tumble down the stairs toward the unfinished, hard concrete floor. I’d skid across four feet to catch you averting which would certainly have been a sickening splat. “Save, Roy!” the contractor who was working on finishing the basement would yell.

The next day you’d be 11 and you’d run across a soccer field, then face plant from the slightest contact of an opposing player, illustrating to all that you’d perfected the art of faking an injury. Watching you writhe and contort on the ground on a weekly basis? Well, there were worse ways to spend Saturday mornings.

A week later, you’d be 13 and you’d be a freshman in high school. You’d make the basketball (B) team, but miss out on your first love, the baseball team.You’d find new dreams to follow.

Then, you’d be 16, and you’d talk about your hopes for becoming a leader for retreats and freshman orientations during your senior year. I would think, they’d be crazy not to have a kid like you as a leader of younger men. They weren’t crazy. You were chosen for leadership.

And then you’d be 17. Today.

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Your step-mother and I couldn’t be prouder of you. Your sister couldn’t love you more. Your bonus-brother couldn’t be more interested in where your life will take you.

But I have an idea: stay home. Don’t go to college. I’m going to miss you too much.

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17 Years of HJ Jr… A Birthday Reflection

I’ve had HJ jr in my life for over 7 years now. Today, he turns 17 and, in a short two more years, I will have known him for half his life. The months move quickly by, that’s for sure.

When he was ten, I was driving him across town for a birthday party for my sister and he engaged me in what I would call an intellectual exercise.  Actually, more correctly stated, he engaged himself in an out-loud, intellectual exercise, though he didn’t have the vocabulary to call it such at the time. We had just purchased a chocolate cake for my sister’s birthday and HJ jr said “I wonder if I can remember every piece of chocolate cake I have ever had” and spent the ride cataloging each slice that had crossed his lips.

The ride was well over half an hour.

If I didn’t know it before that moment, and I think I only suspected it up until then, I knew it clearly after: HJ jr’s mind works like the mind of no one else.

And what a gift that has been.

For years, HJ jr had a habit of remarking, “I’ve got three questions, but I forgot the first two so can I ask you one?” The answer was always “yes, you can.” I know why he forgot the first two. There is simply so much going on in that mind of his that holding on to every detail is not that important.

To say that he thinks “outside the box” is to imply that HJ jr has even been confined to a box. He hasn’t. He is independent. Slow to be swayed by the crowd. Intellectual and reflective. HJ jr has a maturity that many his age do not share. He is as much at home in a room full of adults as he is with his peers.

And he remembers every piece of chocolate cake he’s ever had.

Don’t ask him to recount them for you. He will.

Happy birthday, bonus son. It has been a great blessing in my life to have you in it these years and I am so excited and so anxious to watch you pursue all that you want from life. There is no box big enough to hold you. That’s for sure.

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