Happy Birthday, Tyler

“She said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.’”

Eve’s words of gratitude and wonder upon the birth of her first son have been bouncing around my brain a lot the past few days. Because today, in the eyes of the law, my firstborn becomes a man.

Twenty-one years ago today, I got my first peek at the beautiful red hair of the son who was thoughtful enough to make his entrance into the world on his red-headed grandmother’s birthday.

Twenty-one years ago, I thought I would teach this baby many things, and I guess I did teach him a little. But today, when I look back, I mostly see what he has taught me.

Because of Tyler, I can tell the difference between a front-end loader and a bulldozer, a Tyrannosaurus rex from a Triceratops. I know about the offside rule in soccer, can spot a back-court violation in basketball, and can come close to naming the starting lineups for the past five Los Angeles Lakers championship teams.

Because of Tyler, I learned a little about the care and feeding of tadpoles and toads, a bearded dragon named Reggie, and teenage boys. And though I’ve tried hard to forget, I can still tell you that a Charizard is a very valuable Pokémon to have in your possession.

I remember these things even though Tyler hasn’t talked much about trucks or dinosaurs or pocket monsters in a long time. These days, he tells me about Kant and Nietzsche and what steps the world should take to enhance the economic development of Africa. He tells me about German Christmas markets and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and beaches in Barcelona. And about the Lakers—always about the Lakers.

In a couple of weeks, he will be heading to Washington, D.C., where he will live on Pennsylvania Avenue and work as an intern with the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. I can’t wait to learn about life in the nation’s capital and how he adjusts to humidity.

By his next birthday, Tyler should have his college degree in hand and memories of graduation will be a couple of days old. I have no idea where he’ll be headed this time next year—and neither does he. I just know that with the help of the Lord—and family and teachers and youth ministers and neighbors and friends—my firstborn has become a man who continues to teach me and amaze me and make me incredibly proud.

Happy 21st birthday, Tyler.

 

April 28, 2013

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