I write this on the birthday of our firstborn, Justin. I sound like a parent when I say that I can't believe he is already eleven. As you can see from the pictures, his birthday cakes have evolved a bit since birthday number one. He has graduated from Big Bird on his first birthday to Indiana Jones in the present.
Our kids' birthdays always bring back memories of the days they were born. After Justin had been born at 5:30 in the morning, I did what I always do when a major life transition occurs. I went for a walk in the woods. I drove to a forest preserve in the outskirts of the city and walked as I thanked God for this child. I thought about the compliment the Lord had paid me, to entrust me with the raising of a boy. God entrusted me with the responsibility of teaching---showing---a boy how to become a man. Was I up to the task?
I'm currently reading John Eldredge's book The Way of the Wild Heart. The book is full of perspective on raising boys to become men. Eldredge describes the phases of a male's life in terms of boyhood, cowboy, warrior, lover, king, and sage. I pray I can adequately see Justin through each of the first five phases. Anyway, the book is excellent if you've been a boy or if you're raising boys.
I am so thankful to have my boy (and my girl). When Justin was about two I was putting him to bed one night when I said, "I love my boy." He threw his arms around my neck and replied, "I love my boy too!" We have repeated this bedtime ritual often through the years. It has always been spontaneous and unprompted.
I love having my girl who adores her daddy (and whom I adore). And I love having my boy to do the "guy stuff" with. I got him the Transformers movie for his birthday--machines, robots, vehicles, explosions. Sounds great! My wife Gretchen has informed us that we can watch it without her. Right now we're working on her to let me take Justin to see Ironman. Maybe not the best parental decision on my part, but we guys love that stuff! It's got to beat What Women Want or How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.
Justin has always had a heart for the underdog, the minority, the new kid at school, younger kids, and the "special" child (sounds a bit Christ-like to me). Justin is very talented with "hands-on" stuff (unlike his dad). He loves basketball and is a good sport win or lose (although he did make the winning shot the last game of the season). He is a Boy Scout, a first year trumpet player, and my hiking buddy. And we both share a love for Batman. I love my boy.