It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Hot breakfast, hugs, “Happy Birthday” wishes – you know, the whole 9. Some gifts now, some later. Dinner at home or restaurant of choice, custom cake, calls from relatives around the country…
My youngest son came down the stairs and into the kitchen for a celebratory breakfast. His dreads bounced around his face as he danced down the hallway. I would have told him to calm down but I remembered how I was at that age, bubbling over with energy. This being the first day of his 21st year on earth, he made no effort to contain his excitement.
Jason, my youngest, my “Y2K Baby”, has become a legal adult.
What the hell happened? Where did the time go? Who stole my babies?
It’s a weird feeling. We’re not empty nesters, since two of the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse are still at home. But I’m not angry about that. They can leave whenever they’re ready, as long as they contribute to the maintenance and stability of this house and are working towards a stand-alone solution aka “gitcho *ss out”.
It’s the fact that my babies are gone.
21 years is a long time to some (especially if you’re doing time), but when you’re a parent it flies by and you can only think of the blur of images; mental photographs of ever-changing faces as each new addition to the family got bigger while faces thinned and stretched vertically. Baby bottom-smooth faces, soon exploding with pimples, eventually covered with mini-fros, medium-bald fades, dreads, moustaches and beards. Soft coo’s and goo-goo gah-gah poo-poo’s, now bass voices asking to borrow my Perry Ellis Elite cologne because it smells better than theirs. Barnie The Dinosaur sing-along DVDs have been replaced with streamed movies and “following” young girls’ Onlyfans accounts.
Gone are the diapers, bottles, crayons, school projects, soccer balls and action figures. They’ve been replaced with video game CDs, graphic t-shirts, African bracelets and deodorant.
I have to contend with the thought that I no longer have to go to the school to talk with the principal if they get into trouble. No, now I will have to bail them out of jail. Thank God that has never happened and I hope it never does. Thankfully, we raised them right and even better, they’ve adhered to their teachings, willfully.
My baby is 21 and although he’s been free to do his own thing since he turned 18, it’s truly official now. He is free to do and have access to everything his parents get, sans AARP invitations and wondering if he can afford to retire in the next decade and subsequent years.
He’s already planning to head to the casino today and knowing my oldest son, they’re going to take him to a strip club. So much for the birthday cake, party streamers and conical birthday hats on elastic strings.
He’s also taking a trip to Miami with his friends. Just yesterday, we were packing him and his brothers in the car to drive to King’s Island theme park.
Someone took our children. Time stole our babies.
…and try as we might, we can never get them back.
Yeah, I know: “They’ll always be your babies no matter how old they get.” But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t as happy as I am sad.
My young’uns survived childhood and now I have four adults for “children”. I can’t call them that anymore and haven’t for some time now. I can’t call them “my babies” anymore. “My boys”.
Today, they are men, all of them.
They really ARE the Four Horsemen.
The era of parenting, in the traditional sense, is gone. The transition to our roles as advisors is complete. Hell, in time, we can even call them “friends”, since we spent their childhood reminding them that we weren’t. No, hush. That’s not cruel. Working so hard to be your child’s friend too often serves only to spoil and enable them when you should be RAISING them and it undermines your true role as a real parent. Think I might just blog about that. Later.
All I can do at this point is get the camera, remind them to get haircuts and find the time to meet up (which is darn near impossible for them) for a formal and updated photo shoot.
…then see if they can give me a couple hundred dollars for this electric bill because they’re all working and ran my utilities up, being on games all night, eating up my food.
Happy Birthday, Jason and beware, world…
…the apocalypse has officially begun, for he hath loosed them upon you.