The past twelve years fly past in my mind. His difficult birth. His learning to crawl like an alligator. His smile and his gentleness. Holding on to Athena the rottweiler as he learned to stand. His obsession with the Power Rangers and his determination to be one when he grew up. His asking if he could run up that hill immediately after he finished a grueling lacrosse practice. ("Aren't you tired?" "Yeah, but I like to run.") Charging around his house with his friends, shooting nerf guns. His pride in being able to take of his monitor lizard and, later, his ball python. His doing great at school despite his penchant for forgetting to bring his books home. ("It must have been that part of my brain wasn't working.") His willingness to do his chores without complaint. Wrestling with his father. The pride he had when he played bells and drums with the older kids at a concert. His surprise at his first wrestling match when he found out his opponent had no arms or legs. (True story. Mark lost the match because he just couldn't figure out how he was supposed to grapple the other boy [who was a very determined opponent]; it was an interesting match to watch.) His determination and skill at lacrosse and soccer. The so many times when he and his sister get into giggling fits. The scary times at the emergency room and the hospital. His joy when he goes fishing with his other grandfather. His learning to give "air hugs" as he got older. His detailed knowledge of dinosaurs when her was four or five, soon to be supplemented by a detailed knowledge of sharks. His love of nature and animals. His honesty. His curiosity. His fascination with Goosebumps and, later, with Percy Jackson. His pride at being voted the "quietest boy in sixth grade." His smile. His current refusal to like girls -- they can be okay but, well, you know. His absolute refusal to like Justin Beiber. The fact that there is not a mean bone in his body.
Time rushes by and in exactly one year he will be a teenager. Wow.
It has been a privilege to watch Mark grow and mature over the past twelve years and to see what kind of boy he has become. It will be a privilege to watch Mark continue to mature into the fantastic man I know he will become.
Sure, I'm prejudiced. But our children and our grandchildren are our gifts to the world. You can thank us at anytime, world.
Happy birthday, Mark! Enjoy the birthday pizza.