It was a talent show in my parents’ living room, and the actors had taken the “stage.” The a capella version of Annie’s signature song began as a duet, but it quickly became my daughter’s moment to shine – or so she thought. Britton wore the crescendo on her face as she sang, building toward that moment when “tomorrow” would break through into right here and right now; only what broke through was her little brother’s voice, passion-full and louder-than-life…
Tomonnow! Tomonnow! I love you, tomonnow! You’re only a day away.
Tomonnow, my little boy will be eighteen years old. So today I am letting the memory-reel run (completely out-of-order, I might add), pausing at eighteen of my favorite yesterdays with Joffrey, so grateful for every single day I have been blessed to be your Mom.
- Havoc! You had earned your nickname by age two, and you had the scars to prove it! I remember the first ER trip for stitches in your forehead – the result of our playtime gone awry. Thank goodness for your Dad, because I was a sobbing mess as I stood in the hallway while you screamed from the treatment room. Apparently I’ve blocked many of your nickname confirmations – like the Olympic season when you found an empty kiddie pool in the laundry room and decided to be a diver – from the top of the washing machine. You can thank Nana Bea for that crisis averted (I know I do)!
- Green marker in hand, green ink from head to toe – I found you coloring yourself when we should have been in the car and on our way five minutes ago. I was not happy. I think I made that pretty clear. You cried. And you told me, through your tears, “I just wanted to be like Larry Boy, Mommy.” I love that cucumber, too. How could I argue with that?
- Ebay was brand-spanking-new and I loved shopping there just a little too much. I found a “lot” of Power Ranger action figures (about 100 of them, to be exact), and I bought it and kept the box high on a shelf, taking out one at a time to give to you over the course of many, many months. Every single time a new guy came out of the box, you grabbed it and hugged it and said “Red Power Ranger! Red Power Ranger!” Eventually you realized that some of them were other colors, and you corrected yourself: “Blue Red Power Ranger! Green Red Power Ranger!” There really is no end to the Red Power Ranger stories we could tell… Don’t get me started!
- One morning in the kitchen, as we were getting ready for school, you said something that prompted me to say “that’s an oxymoron.” “Mom! Are you calling me a moron?” Things quickly got out of control and a song was born; the melody still rings in my ears: “When I was nine years old, my Mom used to say: Joffrey, you’re a moron!” Geesh!
- Did I mention Stinky Friday?
- And that Robin Hood costume that you wore, red feather in your cap and all, until the thing just could not be safely pulled over your head anymore…
- How many times can a person watch “Cats” before they grow whiskers and start purring? Even now as I type, I’m looking at your picture – Tigger suit and cat makeup – from your birthday fifteen years ago. Band-aid across your forehead, covering the stitches from incident #2. It’s still on my shelf. It still makes me smile.
- You have often complained, sometimes bitterly, that we don’t have as many pictures and videos of you as we do of your sister. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that every time I hear your three year old voice on a home video, I can’t help but laugh and smile and fight back happy tears. No one has ever had a voice like that but you.
- We were buddies, you and I, when you were three and four and five and I was a stay-at-home Mom. From playgroup to the Muffin Shop to Kindermusik, we sang and danced and ate and played together every day. Someday you’ll have a little person to love like that – and you will.
- By the time you reached Confirmation age at church, you had been to so many classes with me that people said you could probably teach it! Obviously, I didn’t let you do that. But your Faith Chest is full and you’ll never stop learning. Don’t ever stop learning!
- Pride bubbled over in me as I watched you play Beethoven’s Fifth at your first piano recital! NO WAY is this my kid! You actually played better under pressure, which totally blew me away. Today your fingers move across piano keys and over the strings of your guitar so skillfully that you make it look easy. You make it sound amazing. Music really, really, really looks good on you!
- We all cried buckets of tears when Sue went back to Germany. That next summer, she came for a visit, and we decided to surprise you and Britton. I picked Sue up in L.A. and we got home late at night. She fell asleep in her bed, in her bedroom, and when you woke up the next morning, Dad told you there was a surprise in Sue’s room for you. I’m sure you were thinking “toy” (after all, you were four), but when you realized Sue was in her bed, you climbed up and climbed in without missing a beat. You knew she was home.
- The fall we went to Williamsburg, you were SO EXCITED about riding the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens! You had been watching the videos of the coasters online, you knew all their names and you were more than ready to ride! You also knew the height requirements. For weeks before we left, you had us measure you, and it was going to be close… You wore your tallest sneakers that day, and we all held our breath as the gate attendant stood you beside the ruler – JOY!
- When we went to Germany for Sue’s wedding, you weren’t a little kid anymore. On our last day there, knowing how much you like soccer, Sue and Max suggested we tour the professional soccer stadium nearby. I could see your disappointment, because more than anything else that trip, you had looked forward to playing soccer with Sue. Of course, that’s what we did! The pictures from that day are beautiful.
- Remember when you whined and cried because you were cold and tired and didn’t want to listen to this loud music anymore (at Castles & Coasters, while I was jamming out to Red)? Every now and then I get a glimpse of you in me, when you’re testing out your DJ equipment and adding speakers to your wall…
- This list is incomplete if I don’t mention River Dance – right?
- The first time we put you on a plane to Wyoming by yourself, I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe again until you came home. It gets a little easier, each time you get on a plane – or in a car – by yourself, but only a little. Easier. Just thought you should know.
- Last week your Dad and I sat and watched your last high school soccer game; bittersweet. I remember watching your first soccer game, as you spun around in circles and studied bugs in the grass. Oblivious to the game going on around you. Content to be yourself, where you stood. I watched as you stood as team captain this time, engaged in the game, but still content to be the creative, funny, sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent and strong young man you are today.
And tomorrow – tomonnow – you will be eighteen! And I will be the luckiest Mom in the world for having spent these eighteen wonderful years with you.