July 6, 2001

Seventeen


My younger baby Robert turned 17 today.
This isn't a major crisis event except when I remember myself at 17.
(Yes it's all about me, me, me!)

At 17 I was in my second month of an undergraduate science program at McGill. So young, because I was one of the youngest in my grade and because at that time there were no junior colleges (none mandatory, anyway) in the English education system in Quebec, where high school ends at grade 11.

Straight from Mount Royal High to the McGill "lower campus" where the hippies languished.
Couldn't have been more perfect.

When I turned 17 I was two weeks away from beginning my first earth-shattering romance.
I thought I was grown up.

My son just spent the evening trying to assemble his fall course schedule for college.
I think he's grown up too.
He's pretty level-headed and very intelligent. He has always had a creative streak which presently manifests itself in music.
Socially, he's 17. Which is fine. (For now.)

When he was little (three? four? I forget) my sister asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He replied, "a pinano" (piano).
A few years later he began nagging me for piano lessons (by then he had learned to talk) but since we didn't have a real one, and since we weren't about to spend thousands on what might be a whim, we settled for an electronic keyboard and only spent hundreds.

He took piano lessons and practiced on the keyboard for two years.
Even after he stopped the lessons he continued to play.

A few years after that he requested guitar lessons. That took less nagging because we knew he was serious about music, and because I always wanted one of my sons to be a rock star.
(Yeah, I know. But I'm not forcing him into it, really!)
One guitar and amp later, he was in business with the teacher that was to become his band's producer and mentor.

Those lessons lasted three or four years and only ended when he decided to switch to bass guitar. The original guitar has been sold, and he now owns an Ibanez guitar, an Ibanez bass (which isn't good enough for him) and an "Ernie Ball" bass, whatever that is. It looks really cool, mostly black with white and silver.

Well that was a nice tangent.

Where was I? Oh, his birthday.
I didn't know whether he'd be a boy or girl before he appeared. I did know with Mark, and wanted to do it the other way that time. When I took the ultrasound I walked in the room and said, "don't tell me!" before anything else. The images were so primitive then that I could never have distinguished it myself. We didn't even get a postcard photo to take home.

I thought he'd be a girl; people (strangers) would stop me on the street, pat my belly and tell me it was a girl. What's up with that anyway? In no other circumstances would touching a stranger's belly be acceptable, but just because it's protruding so far forward that it behaves like a disembodied unit - which functionally it is, anyway - we figure it's ok...
(The worst thing that can happen is to do that to someone who turns out not to be pregnant.)

I had a wonderful girl's name all picked out:   Robin Michelle. We had decided on the initials R.M. for Jewish naming conventions.
So when Robert Matthew appeared, my first thought was that I'd never again find the toilet seat up; my second was that everyone had been wrong.
It was more fun that way, not knowing.

He didn't look much like Mark had looked; he was about a half pound lighter, and had little hair. He had pointy ears and looked like a little elf.

I was very unhappy with the baby picture the photographer took in the hospital; thus I present a home photo of Mark, age 3, and Rob, age probably a month or two. This one captures the essence of ROB much better.

my babies!


They never looked alike at all until about a year or two ago.
After all that time it was eerie to see traces of one in the other.

According to the famous birthdays website, Rob shares a birthday with the current U.S. President, Bush the Younger; also a bunch of actors, a few people I never heard of, John Paul Jones (the Naval hero, not the musician), Nancy Reagan, anddddd................
the Dalai Lama.

Mark too shares a birthday (May 29) with a revolutionary war hero - Patrick Henry - and a U.S. President, none other than Kennedy. (Who would be 84 now. Ack!)

Mark got the better president (in my opinion) but the Dalai Lama trumps them all.

Parting Shot

This appeared in our newspaper on Thursday.
It's not online - if it were I'd have just linked to it.

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