This week my youngest son is turning 16. It is truly factual proof of the enduring grace of a merciful God that he has made it this far, because without that, I would have probably killed him a long time ago. Every family has that kid that’s likely to jump off the roof in Superman pajamas or try and drive the school bus in third grade to impress a girl. Okay, he’s not exactly that kid, but close. If the truth be told, this is the child my parents wished upon me. Sorry Mom and Dad, I get it. Paybacks are hell.
When this boy was about five, he deposited his birthday money into his savings account at the credit union on an extremely busy payday Friday. As a reward, they let him pick a prize out of their treasure chest. Naturally, he picked the whoopee cushion. Naturally. Then while I’m distracted with other banking business, he blows it up far beyond its manufacturer’s recommended specifications, places it in the chair, launches his sturdy, five-year old body into the air and comes down on the whoopee cushion. I pause here because it’s still difficult to talk about. The thing exploded like a gunshot! People were screaming and diving for cover! The security officer pulled his weapon! I’m almost positive the tellers were on the verge of activating a full lockdown.
I was mortified. For years I had to hire a babysitter so I could go make my car payment. Even then, I wore dark glasses and a baseball cap. There is no amount of time that erases that kind of public trauma. If that weren’t enough, he wanted to know if we could patch the whoopee cushion so he could do it again.
His resume includes hundreds of dollars in broken windows and broken bones, not to mention a wide swath of structural and collateral damage. By reputation alone, he’s immediately tied to significant natural and manmade disasters.
But here’s the thing, the big blue eyes and mischievous smile are irresistible. He’s got the world’s biggest heart, a spirit that’s selfless and unendingly loving. He’d give you the shirt off his back or, if he really liked that shirt, he’d swipe the shirt off someone else’s back for you. At the end of the day, he’s truly an amazing young man who will probably do great things. So Happy Birthday, Tom!