On The Occasion of The First Day of Your Son’s 20th Year


For the first time in two decades, you won’t be with your son today on his birthday.  He is the caboose–the baby.  You wrapped and shipped some presents off to his dorm earlier in the week, and mailed some cards.  But it’s just not the same.

Yesterday, you and your husband worked in the garden.  While you were scraping through the red clay, your husband unearthed a tiny neon yellow object.

“Don’t you go and make me cry now,” you warned him.

He grinned and wiped off the dirt.  Lo and behold, it was a tiny Tonka steam-roller truck, which had been seemingly glued inside your son’s small fist, back in 1994.  How the toy managed to survive two decades of tilling and digging in this small plot, you can’t imagine.  Your husband washed it off with the hose, and set it in front of the yellow tomato plant he’d just staked.

“Our garden mascot,” you proclaimed.

After lunch, you both crunched up to the attic–ye gods–the final, yet often forgotten, frontier.  Lord only knows what got into you, (perhaps a wee bit too much caffeine), but you actually performed some spring cleaning, albeit lite.  You had a veritable fifty-year-old Funfest.  Is this what people do when they are retired?  Weed through garden and attic?  But we aren’t retired.  And when we are, can’t we just go on a trip?

After winnowing through old carpet leftovers, 2,000 rolls of Christmas wrap and VW-sized dinosaur computers and the like, you found a bag o’ treasure:  your son’s baby clothes, which in haste had been stuck up there in 1994, when you moved to the house.

Land. o. goshen.  Later you trundled the bundle downstairs in order to view it fully.  You held up each tiny piece for your husband to view.  You displayed an absolutely  minute onesie–are they still called that in Mom and Dad-speak?

“Who would have ever dreamed that he’d end up being six-foot-one,” you announced, holding the proffered item.

And then you happened upon his first pair of  ‘shoes.‘  This was touching because ‘shoe’ was his first word.  He has always liked shoes–from light-up tennis shoes, to later, football and soccer cleats and running shoes.  Next, (after Dada and Mama), was the word, Coke–clear as a bell.  Perhaps because he wanted some and you wouldn’t give him any.  Every now and then you’d catch Mama slippin’ him some when we went to visit.

Both these early passions still hold true today.  He is a wonderful man, and still has clear, well-defined tastes.  This year, you shipped him a pair o’ Nikes, a Tiger Woods Master’s Xbox game, an REI jacket and a pizza gift certificate–which will go quite well with Coke.

Shoes and cokes– here’s to you, son.  You are such a grand gift to us, indeed.  Happy Birthday.

…and one tiny lost yet found truck.

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About reelingintheyears.wordpress.com

A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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22 Responses to On The Occasion of The First Day of Your Son’s 20th Year

  1. Tori Nelson says:

    Oh. Mah. Gawd. This post has me boo-hooin’. Happy Birthday to your boy!

  2. Leah says:

    Oh, this post is precious! My Sophie is only 3 and I can already feel her growing and growing away from me. It’s so exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. I would have lost it when I found the little Tonka truck. And I’ve yet to give up her clothes. It’s the little things that make us preserve those memories and you just can’t give up. Happy Birthday to your baby. … And yes, they’re still called onesies.

    • Thank you, Leah! I felt the exact same way when they were @ age three! It’s like they launch out into the world as a toddler. Now if I could only locate some of his ‘bubble’ outfits…I found his old play clothes, which are cute and not too stained!

  3. What a sweet story, Reeling! Happy birthday to your big boy!

    Wendy

  4. ryoko861 says:

    Geez, and I thought I was sentimental. You can’t even get into my attic! I still have the rocking pony(makes clip clop sounds as you rock), Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, trains, Hot Wheels, building blocks (they used to me MINE when I was little), Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles and their accessories, GI Joes, Ghost Busters, two Rubbermade bins of fast food toys, and the other toys I just can’t part with. I’m surprised the ceiling hasn’t collapsed in the garage yet.

    Finding that Tonka must have really hit home. If you keep anything, it’s got to be that!

    • OMG–the rocking pony! I remember my daughter had one on springs–don’t think I could have taken the clip clop noise! We have the SAME Rubbermaids chock full of fast food toys and Beanie Babies, envisioning our offspring hauling the tubs onto Antique Road Show in the next decade 🙂

  5. First: happy birthday to your son, now a young man. Second: sweet, sweet post. Finding the Tonka must have been a tear-jerking moment! Third: I so sympathize about those moments when we realize our children will now spend birthdays apart from us. Even after all these years, I still feel happy/sad on their birthdays. Another bittersweet part of the empty nest.

  6. Isn’t that the truth, M.E.N.! I do feel so happy during those special days, and also that touch of sadness. People always said the years would fly by and I never believed them when I was in the thick of it; the hours and days never seemed to!
    And thanks for his birthday wishes!

  7. I can so relate to this post! Thank you for saying it so beautifully! (So glad I found your blog via Leah’s Thoughts.)

  8. comingeast says:

    I feel your pain. My youngest is 32, and I still keep on my desk his little Sesame Street tiny plastic character he always carried around. I gave him a Papa Smurf and Bride Smurfette in a little box during his rehearsal dinner when he got married because Smurfs were his most treasured possessions when he was four or five. It was his favorite present! Oh, to be a young mother again with the same children, but treasuring them even more because we know what’s coming. Great post!

  9. Oh gosh — well if unearthing that little Tonka truck didn’t make you cry, it did me! I’m totally teary right now. :’) What a precious story. This is why I love your blog. You find these little moments to bring to life and make the rest of us cry. (That’s a good thing.)

  10. Great post. My kids are nine and seven, and I’ve just started to realize how little time I have left with them under my roof.

  11. Thanks, Greatsby! After reading your hilarious birthday post, it sounds like you are living life to the absolute fullest with your kids!

  12. Jane Whitfield says:

    I recently found a huge box of Legos on a balcony outside the boys’ old play room. Hosed off years of dust and pollen, then I repacked them for other children–my students and maybe grandchildren!!! Love your post!!! My caboose is leaving the train in August!!! for college.

  13. What a great post. My mom, having 5 almost grown children, frequently makes comments about little things like this. Can’t wait to send her this so she knows she’s not alone!! Thanks for sharing. -A

  14. How sweet of you! Wow–my hat is off to her. I’m one of five children; I can’t imagine raising that many!! Thanks for stopping by the porch!

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