Today He Can Buy Cigarettes and Vote. And Go To War.


This is Devon, my first born. He was such a knobby-kneed, curly tow-headed baby. He was the light of my life and had my full attention for only about 18 months until his sister turned up, whining for bottles and diapers, which he willingly and happily fetched for her (me).

Devon has a brain in his head that can sometimes be a bit intimidating. He is just sharp, in the boy genius kind of way. Conversations with him and what he thinks are always informative, entertaining and sometimes I even learn a little something. Although I fear he is becoming a Republican, which I’m proud of at the same time because he has a mind all his own and isn’t afraid to use it and own it.

He was always in the advanced classes all going through school and figured out even before middle school that he could exert very little effort and glide by quite easily. The highlights of his schooling so far, to me, are those moments where I saw him really getting excited about something he was learning, because it happened so rarely. But when it did, that spark in his eye was so, so great. He starts to talk with his hands and then his arms and then his whole body, sitting on the couch, threatens to almost shoot up through the ceiling as he explains how some new computer program interacts with something else, which I have no idea what it all means, but frankly, I don’t care. I’m just watching him and loving it.

I home schooled Devon for the first three years of school while we lived over in Germany. His little sister joined us for most of our classes and got the benefit of watching him make an erupting volcano and combining chemicals to create the foulest smells ever to touch anyone’s nose. Ever. We went for walks around the neighborhood and learned German and got to know the Landlady and often went to pet her farm animals while practicing single digit timetables.

And then somewhere around his 5th grade year, my mind started unraveling at an alarming rate and Devon shouldered more responsibility than some adults. By 6th grade he juggled school and housework and babysitting and entertaining his baby brothers while his sister cooked them meals and did laundry. And then some months later I went away for a year or so and when I came back, he was older.

By the time I made it back to San Diego, his dad had moved the family north and it took me about 2 years to find a local job and move closer to him and the other kids. All through that trying time of driving back and forth and frustration, Devon would tell me, ‘It’s small steps, Mom. Each time it gets a little better.’ And he would give me a hug. And later, when I was alone, I would weep because my son had cause for so much wisdom.

Living close these past two years has been wonderful in so many ways but one of the most valued by me is watching him become a man. He’s a good man. Young, yes, but old in so many ways. This past year he’s poked his toe into the social aspects of high school. He’s learned a little about having a crush on a girl and making a best friend with a guy. Both of which he had never felt safe enough to do before. He has excelled in leadership and became the co-editor of the school paper, which he takes very seriously. He’s also got a great sense of humor and cracks my shit up. We’ve always been the best of friends but it’s been only the past few years that I learned how to be a real mom. And he’s let me be his mom, although he in no way had to and it must have been a very scary concept to trust me.

I worry about all the mistakes I’ve made while he’s been a part of my life. I worry about all the things I’ve put him through. I worry about the issues he’ll have to deal with someday.

And then I look at his face and in his eyes and remember that God and the Universe have everything under control and no amount of my worrying will do anything to change anything. My job is to love him. And I can do that.

Because there is no way to freeze time at 17.5 years old, Devon turns eighteen today. My baby is eighteen. When I was eighteen I had him wrapped round my leg and his sister about to be born. I had lived through years of drug and alcohol abuse and felt about 100 years old. Thank God that all he has to do is attend his last year of high school and prepare to go to college in the fall. Thank God he’s never smoked or done drugs and that his alcohol consumption is at a very age-appropriate level. All of that is hard enough. And he has to register with selective service and possibly get drafted at some point, which scares the crap out me so I don’t think about it very often.

I’m so proud of you, Devon. And I love you with all my heart. Thanks for everything you bring to my life.

Yours always and forever,