Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Happy Birthday James - Our "Guinea Pig"!

Happy Birthday James! James is coming home from Phoenix today. He went with his dad for a birthday trip. Eric had business down there so they decided to have some father/son time: golf, a couple of beers, and just hanging out together. They've had a great time.

James is now 24! That must mean I am getting old! When I had him, I was young. The nurse at the doctor's office asked me what high school I attended! In actuality, I was married, all grown up at 19, and a sophomore in college. I always looked young tho (then, not now :-) and many people often asked me if I was his babysitter!!!

James was our guinea pig, like all firstborns. Perhaps he suffered more than most because I was always reading some new book on how to parent the "right" way, and the experts all had their own opinions so things were always changing. Finally, about the time Lizzy came along, I gave up on most of that professional advice and found my own way--a concoction of everything I had read and everything I already knew. It's a wonderful feeling to finally reach that point in parenting. I finally realized I wasn't going to psychologically harm my child for life if I occasionally responded the "wrong" way (whatever "wrong" means) and I also learned it is okay to discipline kids - gently, lovingly, but firmly. I love the statement by Dr. Wm. Sears, "It's not the severity of a consequence, it's the certainty of it!" Kids actually feel more secure when parents give them boundaries and are consistent in enforcing them. Consistency. There we go. That's the word I'm looking for. Consistent. Hard to do. But probably the most important thing we can do for our children. Along with loving them, of course - but that's the easy part!!

Despite all this experimentation, James turned out okay! In fact, more than okay! He's a most amazing young man and he has taught me so much about life. He loves sports and is very competitive, yet he is also one of the most laid-back people I know. He knows how to enjoy life. He knows how to remember the important things in life.

When he was a senior in high school he needed to take one more honors class in order to graduate with Honors. He knew it was going to require two hours of homework a night and he decided NOT to take it. I couldn't believe it! He was so close! Why would he stop one class short??? His reply? He was a three-sport athlete and worked part-time and he told me he just wanted to enjoy his senior year a little bit; enjoy life a little more. Though I couldn't understand his decision at the time, I understand it now. I have often applied that lesson to my own life: slow down, enjoy more.

James has so many gifts, some God-given, some earned through sheer determination. But, you know what I am most proud of? His kind heart. I remember his last basketball game as a fourth grader. There was one little boy who hadn't made a basket all year. James was determined this little boy was going to make a basket before the season ended. James was a great rebounder and he kept rebounding the ball and passing it out to the little boy who hadn't yet made a basket. The little boy would shoot it up, hit the rim, miss, and James would rebound it again, passing it out to the little boy for another shot. He repeated this over and over and over and finally, right at the end of the game, the little boy made the basket! His only basket of the season. That little boy was his little brother, Joe.

The fact that those two brothers often had their moments of Cain Vs. Abel made that day all-the-more memorable. But then, James was always surprising me with something, giving me more to think about. Sometimes I wonder who was really raising who? Happy Birthday James!!

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