Today, I have two of them.
Teenagers, that is. In seventeen short months, Teenager Number Three will make her debut, and we’ll no longer have anyone in single digits. How in the world did that happen?
“Um, we’re growing up, Mom,” Mary Claire explained with her classic eye-roll. “It happens.”
Augustus Charles hit the big 1-3 this morning. Thirteen.
I know I’ve written about him a great deal lately, but he gives me a lot of great material.
He’s my little enigma, that Gus. My still water that runs deep. With eyes as big as saucers and arms long enough to wrap me twice in a bear hug, he can melt my heart. That mind is racing constantly, yet we’re not usually privy to what’s churning inside. He sneaks around this house like a Ninja, silently, unobtrusively, stealthily.
Gus is different than the rest of us. He’s more introverted (we tend to be a bit loud), more thoughtful (we tend to run our mouths). He balances the rest of us out with his sensitivity and his pensiveness.
Here are a few of the things we’ve heard about Gus in the past thirteen years…
1. He might not survive. (He did.)
2. He’ll probably be deaf. (He’s not.)
3. He’s a medical mystery. (He was.)
4. He needs physical, occupational, and speech therapy. (Graduated from all three ahead of schedule.)
5. He’s allergic to peanuts, eggs, wheat, and DEET. (Outgrew all but the DEET.)
Here are the things we’ve learned about Gus over the past thirteen years…
1. He had the most amazing mop of red curls when he was a baby. Strangers would comment about how pretty my little girl was, so I cut those fabulous red curls off. I don’t have many regrets in life, but that one’s at the top of the list.
2. His unexpected brush with death taught us more about life than living ten lifetimes could have offered us.
3. Nothing makes that boy happier than food. Nothing.
4. Second to food is the enjoyment that comes from being on a team. He doesn’t need to score, doesn’t really even need to touch the ball. Just high-five him and give him a snack at the end, and his world is complete.
5. He has a smile that can light up the night.
6. The size of his heart makes the rest of ours look like the Grinch’s — before his Whoville transformation.
7. He has a metabolism that comes from another planet. That kid can eat like no one I’ve ever seen. And those skinny arms and legs never fatten up, they just get longer and ganglier. Who knew Abercrombie made a 26-32 slim jean? And that it would still be loose around his waist?
8. I never knew just how good a hug riddled with sharp elbows and bony fingers could feel.
9. By example, he’s taught us the beauty and blessing of having one treasured, true-blue friend. That one is more than enough.
10. He is a pleaser. He wants to make everyone happy. I pray that he doesn’t ever forget to give himself that same gift.
11. By blazing his own quiet and pensive trail through this house of loud, obnoxious Willis’s, he is slowly and surely discovering just how fabulous an individual he is.
12. That boy can write.
13. Someday, he’s going to change this world in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
I don’t always know how best to relate to my Gus, how best to guide and encourage him, but I know how to love him. Unconditionally. Wholeheartedly. With unbounded gratitude.
Much love to you on your birthday, Gus. Revel in the donuts, the cookie cake, the pizza buffet that is yet to come. High-five your basketball teammates and set some killer picks tonight. Walk proudly across the stage when they announce your name at this morning’s Junior National Honor Society induction. Play your baritone like a bad-ass and enjoy your camping trip with Vinny next weekend. The world is waiting for you to come and turn it on its ear… (does the world have ears?), and we have no doubt that you will. We are so blessed to be granted the gift of ushering you through this adventure. Thanks for choosing us as your parents. Thanks for choosing to stick around for this wonderful, wacky journey. Thanks for you, AsparaGus.
Thank God for you.