Privilege Blog

My Son Turns 23, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:06am

Today my son is 23.

When your children are born, and young, you aren’t quite sure what’s going to stick. Is this their personality or a phase? I think it’s best to avoid attributing personality for a long time, to give room for their own selves to show up. You, as the adult, don’t want to construct a premature identity for them out of your own experience and feelings.

That said, it turns out that some things you can see in the young. While there was much I did not know about who my son would become, some of the enduring him was visible very early.

Several years ago I finally converted old videos to digital, vignettes of the kids we hadn’t seen in close to 20 years unearthed.  Oh my gosh he was cute. Watch a few fragments, if you could be so kind, to celebrate his birthday.

Here you might notice his thoughtfulness. He says, “Mommy see?” Then he looks away. Watch his eyes. I’m pretty sure he’s considering the relationship of the camera held to my eyes, and my “seeing.” He thinks similarly to this day.

And here we see his sweet trust in loved ones. So endearing. Let me interpret his toddler talk for you. He says, “Daddy do it. I will dance.” Don’t you smile instinctively when you hear this kind of baby voice?

On the other hand, you might miss his capacity for deft mischief. So deft that I didn’t see it myself until I looked at these videos again, decades later. Nor I could tell he’d grow up to wear pants that fit.

Thank you for hearing out this maternal pride as a present to him rather than a paeon to anything I did.

All of which is to say two things I have said before. First, let us all pay attention. Second, Happy Birthday Mr. Piglet! Don’t forget to tell me what you want for your birthday.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

47 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday to your son! And Happy Basking day to you — ’cause you can and should, bask in the joy of having done such a good job. ‘Cause you know you did!

  2. “Mommy see?”

    Oh that is very very cooool. If I were as smart as you, I’d know what to call that trait, and oh you are so right, there it is forevermore. An extra tier of other-awareness, wow.

    “Don’t forget to tell me what you want for your birthday.”

    Young man, you better decide fast or this forum may start making suggestions. I’ll go first. How about a nice Taurus mug? No? How about some nice Taurus wisdom, then:

    Happy Birthday to both mother and son!

  3. I love to watch kids think. I find it facinating that they have such a different persepective on the world, it’s like they’re tiny aliens sometimes.

    My friend’s daughter who is four asked her mum if my husband and I died ‘cos she hasn’t seen us since we moved to England. I’d love to pop back and reassure her that we still exist! I will write her a postcard and see if we can set up a Skype call but I don’t know if she’ll realise that it’s actually live, not just a movie.

  4. Wishing him a happy birthday! Children change a lot in some ways, but not in others. “The child is father to the man” (or mother to the woman).

  5. Such special memories. I wish we could bottle them at this age! I hope he has a wonderful birthday!

  6. “Deft mischief.” What a lovely way to phrase it. (With two boys, 21 and just 20, I smile recalling the years of deft mischief…)

    A very happy birthday to your 23-year old!

  7. Gorgeous — both his adorable toddler-ness and your love and insight.

    I just spent the day with dear friends and their two year old. It’s amazing how smart she is, and strong-willed. Parenting seems like hard work. I try to be a good friend to them and a caring adult to her, and also just have fun with them all :)

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. A very Happy Birthday to ‘Mr. Piglet’!!! And a very Happy Birth-Day to you too ‘Mommy’! The clips are precious.
    Oh, to be 23 again – with more smarts!
    xo J~

  9. Happiest of birthdays to your son! Thanks for sharing a slice of the sweet wonderful. Will have a slice of my own next month with my turning-22 boy shortly after he graduates. It’s magic, really, how they bloom from the tiny wobbling tots into strapping young men sporting better fitting pants. ; )

  10. Happy birthday to you both! Oh what I would give to have those little arms around my neck once again. What a bright young man you have!

  11. Oh how wonderful this is. You make me look forward to the days my little
    is big and how our relationship will be.

    Happy birthday!

    (Mr Piglet is possibly the most brilliant nickname ever)

    1. Needless to say for a while I was prohibited from using said nickname:). But thank you.

  12. The wonder in that little face, the contained excitement. Don’t you fall in love with him at every stage of life?

  13. I´m late, but : Congratulation to your son and you!

    So, what was his birthday gift wish?

  14. I too am late, but happy birthday to your boy! He looks like he was a sweet toddler, and full of joy and wonder. I’m sure he’s grown up to be a fine man. Here’s wishing him another 20 years of both joy and wonder.

  15. Awwww I love that video -what a sweetheart. These records are so precious.. Happy Birthday to your grown up baby. S x

  16. OMG!!!!

    I LOVE IT!!!!!

    I watch my boy dance all the time and he says things like “Mummy watch!” and “Mummy Look!”

    Love it thank you for sharing xxxxx

  17. Lovely, just lovely! Belated Happy Birthday to your son!! My son also has a older sister and though he’s only 9, we look back at similar videos and just melt into those moments again. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Funny how as parents we spend so much time guiding and not as much time observing. I love how old video’s and photos can provide a glimpse into the past and the present. The best gift is the present, living in the moment and sharing love. Happy Birthday to your darling son.

  19. lisa my youngest and yours almost share the same birthday! wish they were still little but it’s wonderful seeing them come into their own and becoming real grown up men. xo janet

  20. “Pay attention” — great parenting advice. Last week a friend lost her 20 year old son. I can’t even imagine that pain.

    Yesterday I deserted all chores and obligations to play with my sons (10 and 12) in the spring sunshine. Paying attention to the important.

    Congratulations to you and your son. May you celebrate many, many more birthdays.

    1. You may never forget that day. And I am so sorry for your friend’s loss. Unimaginable.

  21. What lovely footage- I was about to say “You’re lucky!” but stopped myself because as a mother I’ve learnt you make your own luck and our children are a result of that. Happy birthday to your gorgeous boy and well done to you!

  22. The voice does make you smile. Adorable, as my two eldest are just in between…One turning 24 in July, and 23 in October. Was such a fun time to raise babies, and their early years missed the ipad,iphone,laptop,video car tv of today. Dare I say, a simpler time then babies today? Just precious. Happy Birthday!

  23. Oh, the cuteness. And I love “Deft mischief.”

    (“High WASPs are apt to let their rugs and sofa reach states of disrepair they’d never suffer in their clothing.”


    My sister also goes by Piglet. You will be pleased to learn this makes me Pooh).

    1. I didn’t even notice the upholstery!

      It’s since been repaired. Raw silk and small children don’t mix. Now it’s just new paint that’s needed.

  24. My baby turns 23 next month. He’s still cute (and still doesn’t wear pants that fit), but now he doesn’t like that I grab him, kiss him, and tell him so.

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