December 13, 2000
Ðear Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡


Ðear Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡:

With any luck, the birthday card should be landing in your mailbox sometime today.

As much as I would love to report that your son had anything at all to do with the selection/purchase/preparation/mailing of your birthday card this year ... I think you know better. (Although he did sign it all by himself, after I handed him a pen, pointed to the blank spot beneath the greeting and said "Sign here." We'll give him some minor effort-points on this one.)

But I have a son, too. I know how it is.

I know they can be a little sluggish in the sentiment department, sometimes, especially when they're young. Frankly, I'm still waiting for that *Thank You For Buying Me A Bazillion Dollars' Worth of School Clothes (And a New HARMONICA)* card from my own fourteen-year-old son.

I know we can only point them towards the light. They have to actually get there on their own two legs.

Still, when they grow up and turn out to be as good and kind and fundamentally decent as David has turned out to be, I'd like to believe that The Mom had something to do with it,  if only because it gives hope to those of us still struggling through the "Courtesy (and Clean Socks) Optional" Years.

I suspect that David wasn't an easy child to raise. I can't imagine that his dangerously agile brain was any less agile -- or any less dangerous -- as a little boy than it is today.  And I know he was probably a total nightmare as a teenager. I've looked at the photo albums. I've heard the horror stories. I've counted the scars on his chin/drill-holes in his earlobes/tire tracks permanently burned into your front lawn. I've often thought about what it must have been like for you, raising three sons just a few years apart in age ... the lone female in a household full of raging testosterone and Mott The Hoople ... and I've wondered how you managed to get through it all with your *sanity molecules* (and your fingernails) still intact.

You are a role model, Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡, for me and for all mothers raising "challenging" sons everywhere. So along with birthday greetings this year, I would also like to convey to you my abject admiration and my most sincere personal thanks.

Thank you for raising a son who is more interested in solving problems than he is in complaining about them. At the risk of boring you with 15MB of my personal history, let me just say that this is a refreshing change of pace.

Thank you for raising a son who does his own laundry. (And mine, a lot of the time.)

Thank you for raising a son who possesses a magnificent speaking voice, beautiful translucent-blue eyes, prettier hair than most women I know and the most incredibly hunky broad shoulders since Joan Crawford and Joan Collins, put together. I realize that God had a lot to do with this -- and I'll be thanking Him personally, for the rest of my life -- but I do think you deserve at least some of the credit.

Thank you for raising a son who puts the lid down without being reminded ... and who doesn't use profanity, even when impatient twentysomething-year-old drivers in ridiculously huge "Look At Me! I'm Compensating!" monster trucks cut him off in the Webster Tube ... and who doesn't scratch himself in public, or spit out his car window, or ogle other women at the mall, or put ketchup on his scrambled eggs ... and who knows the difference between "good crying" and "bad crying," and doesn't come unglued by either ... and who is only marginally interested in televised sports (and even then only local teams, and only the last five minutes of the game). I realize that you may or may not have had anything to do with any of this stuff, either, but I feel like I've got to thank SOMEBODY.

Thank you for raising a son who says "Please" and "Thank you" and "You're welcome" and "God bless you" and "You look nice" and "That was delicious" and "Let me carry that" and "No, those pants make you look thinner, actually."

Thank you for raising a son who treats the people he loves with courtesy and respect and dignity ... and, even more amazingly, treats the people he doesn't love exactly the same way.

Thank you, most especially, for raising a son who doesn't just talk the talk, about making life better for himself and for all of the people who cares about ... but who goes out and actually walks the walk. I am living, breathing proof that his theory of *It Doesn't Happen Overnight (But It Does Happen)* works.

You've done a magnificent job of raising him, Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡. I only hope I do half as well as you have ... and that twenty-something years from now, some woman will be writing to me on my birthday, thanking me for MY son.

Sincerely yours,

P.S. I reminded David about your birthday. Now it's your turn to remind him about mine. Please remind him that although flowers may be optional on Friday, the romantic dinner-for-two is not. Also, please remind him not to wrap my birthday gift in Santa Claus wrapping paper this year. Thankyouverymuch.

repaying a little more of that karmic debt

throw a rock