Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, John Mark!

I am the mother of a teenager now. John Mark turned 13 yesterday! We had a family party during lunch with croissant sandwiches, lemonade, chocolate cake, and John Mark's favorites, Cookies n' Cream ice cream and Doritoes. My plant-loving son was thrilled to receive two Hydrangea plants for his birthday, a pink one and a blue one. He learned about Hydrangeas during a 4-H project on soil pH a couple of years ago and has been crazy about them every since. (You can change the color of some Hydrangeas from pink to blue, or vice versa, by changing the acidity of the soil.) He has been caring for his Hydrangeas attentively and will give his father no peace until they are in the ground. He'll have a party with his best friends this weekend.

John Mark was the most gorgeous baby, with fat cheeks, a head full of brown hair and large brown eyes. When he was born, we lived in a tiny duplex on the low-rent side of Baton Rouge. Most things we had for him were second hand, except for the changing table, which was a baby shower gift, the playpen and swing, which were gifts from John's family and a beautiful cradle from my parents. I desperately wanted a "real" nursery, but we just didn't have the money. I sewed yellow lace curtains from a fabric store remnant, a bed skirt from an old yellow sheet, and my grandmother made a comforter for his baby bed (which had been John's!) I found a roll of cheap wallpaper border at the Discount Wallpaper store that had sailboats and rainbows, and John helped me paste it around his wall. We were ready.

Turns out that John Mark didn't care what his nursery looked like. I spent long, happy days taking care of my baby. Together, we shopped the thrift store that was just down the road, and we spent sunny afternoons singing songs, reading books and listening to Hallal (which was cutting edge in 1993). John Mark crawled after me from room to room as I went about my various projects, reminding me of the song, "I Just Want to Be Where You Are." One day when John Mark was about a year old, we were out past lunch and the two of us stopped at Shoney's to eat. After watching us for a while, an older man told me what a beautiful baby I had and what a wonderful mother I was. I glowed with the compliment. We were Kanga and Roo.

It wasn't too long before John Mark was joined by his younger sister, but those (almost) two short years of "Mommy and John Mark" are sweet memories. Happy Birthday, John Mark!

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