I mean, he’s not 18 in this photo. I’m thinking 6 here.
(The All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2003. See the T-shirt? So this is probably later that year.)
(But the T-shirt might be old. So it might be 2004.)
(You expect me to remember these things? You expect me to look it up? Not happening …)
Anyway, Luke turned 18 yesterday. Eight. Teen.
In those nearly two decades — really? — I paced around our old house in Marietta at 3 a.m. with him in my arms, trying to get him to sleep. I put him on my shoulders hiking around Red Top Mountain. I pushed him on a two-wheeler on a grass baseball field at Wills Park in Alpharetta, teaching him to ride a bike. I walked him to the bus stop whenever his mom couldn’t. I taught him how to catch, and how to swing a bat, and how to get his elbow under the ball on a jumper.
He breezed through elementary school. Middle school was a flash. We had his senior pictures taken last month.
We went to Hawaii, which is where the picture above was taken. Before that, we went to Arizona. After that, we went to Italy. We’ve tried to take him a lot of places. We’ve had fun — or, at the least, some memorable times* — in all of them.
*Someday, I’ll tell you about the family trip to New Orleans.
All along the way I tried, when I felt he needed it, to pass along Dad Wisdom, to coyly disguise some life lessons. Luke being Luke, he sniffed them out immediately and ignored them.
I sat in the audience for piano recitals and guitar lessons and band concerts. I moved him from the car seat in back to a booster seat in back to the passenger seat up front. I took him to get his driver’s license test. Now he’s driving my car.
(More, he’s taken it over. The radio stations are pre-set on rap. The driver’s seat is always too far back. The seat back is tilted so far that I’m looking out the sunroof when I get in.)
He’s 18. My god. He is 18.
He’s gone from playing in the grass to cutting it. He’s moved from having his mom chop up his meals to whipping up late-night pizzas after we’ve gone to bed. He’s progressed from holding our hands everywhere to wanting to bolt across the street by himself to being semi-embarrassed by us to — a fairly recent development — when he’s with his friends across a lobby or in a crowd, actually waving to us. Smiling. Acting like he likes us again. He comes to see us in the stands at football games now. Without a whole lot of prompting.
OK. He still doesn’t understand the concept of a hamper. Has no idea what an iron is used for. Leaves his size 94 sneakers all over the place.
He still can play O.J. innocent whenever the need arises. The need still arises plenty.
But, holy schneike. He’s 18.
He’s seen a million new things in these 18 years, done a million more, and we — his mom and I, his biggest admirers, and no one ever will be anywhere close — have ridden thankfully, blessedly, blissfully along for most of them.
He’s grown. We’ve grown.
Happy birthday to our boy.
Eighteen. How’d that happen?