I was talking to Liam earlier this week about what he wanted to do for his birthday, which is today, and he was noncommittal. He said, “I don’t really like the number 15.”
I thought about this a lot. Liam’s an interesting kid. No doubt about that and I’m proud as heck of him. He’s got the best qualities of his mom and I and has been a mostly quiet, patient observer of his siblings for the past fifteen years. He’s learned a lot, I think, about both what to do and what not to do.
He’s a passionate kid, too. He cares deeply for people and their feelings most of the time. He can be pretty darn self-righteous, at times, too, but he usually comes around to figuring out when those types of actions are doing more harm than good. For being fifteen today, he’s doing pretty well.
I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t. He’s his own guy. I do my best to guide him and so does his mom, but I truly feel like a lot of who he is comes from inside. He is here on this planet for a reason.
You see, after Teresa was born in 2006, Rhondi was on the pill, and we were taking precautions against her getting pregnant again. Those precautions came up short, though, and we found out about Liam not too long before my grandfather, Tom, died. During the last conversation we had, I so wanted to tell him about Liam, but I didn’t. I think, at the time, I knew his time was short and didn’t want to add any stress to his day. Looking back, I wish I had told him. He would have smiled and been happy about Liam, I am sure.
In fact, Liam’s middle name is the same as his. It was our tribute to my grandfather, and I wanted the two of them to be connected. He would have loved Liam, I am sure. Absolutely adored him, most likely, and if there is an afterlife where people are aware of what is going on here on Earth, I’m sure he is very, very proud of him.
Liam would have adored him, too. Luckily, Liam and his grandfather’s have really cool relationships. I think they all are quite taken with him and rightfully so. I love that Liam has such good relationships with all three of the grandfathers who have chosen to be part of his life. He’s got one more, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
This summer, he spent a lot of time with our cousins helping them out by working at their camp. They were both so impressed with Liam, and it was great to see him make further connections. He’s got that gift. It will serve him well in life to connect so easily with people and he’s much smarter about it than I am. He won’t suffer nearly as much bullshit as I have because I wanted people to like me. He’ll sniff out the stinker’s way before I did.
He was super charming and entertaining from the get-go.
I used to love going into Liam and Teresa’s room when they were little and reading them a story at night or just talking to them while they fell asleep. I snoozed in there quite a bit, too. While Teresa was a very cute baby and pretty much perfect in almost every way (except for the puking), Liam was a small, muscular wild man a lot of the time.
He was the one who figured out how to paint with poop, for example, or would see what just about anything tasted like. He was active and curious. He also had a giant personality, and his older brothers and sisters would have him take the most hilarious pictures.
Loving to a fault, I miss the days when if I was watching TV on the couch he would just come up and snuggle right in. I’m glad he still likes to do things with me. He likes his time with his family, and I love that. He’s also taken, lately, to being very interested in knowing our friends. I love it and, across the board, they love him.
As a teenager, he’s been full of surprises, too, and the majority of them are positive. He’s quite a talented musician and can probably play just about any instrument if he puts his mind to it. I am so jealous of his natural ability. At 15, he’s already a way better guitar player than I’ll ever be and if he wanted to do so, he’d be a better bass player than me in not too long, as well.
To say I’m proud of his musical ability and interest is an understatement. He’s already played in front of people, even sang his own song, and I would never have done that as a freshman. The kid will do whatever he wants, musically, if he stays with it. Truly. I’m his biggest fan and I’m sure I will be among many of those over time.
We’ve been playing some golf, too. I really enjoy being out on the course with him. Just like with music, it won’t take long before he surpasses me and I am excited for that, too. I love to watch how he approaches things. He is methodical and observant, which should not be surprising.
As a little guy, he would often act like he was an expert at anything he was interested in. We used to have many laughs about this, and it entertained my mom to no end when he would start explaining something that he had no business knowing about or understanding. Sometimes he was pretty accurate, too. He’s got the gift of gab. My grandfather would have said that he was a “Flannel mouth crapper” or, in layman’s terms, an excellent and smooth bullshitter.
Luckily, though, he has grown out of that, and I don’t think Liam wants to ever bullshit anybody. He values it greatly when a person is genuine with him. It’s an admirable quality and he is an admirable son. I truly cannot wait to see what he does with his life, but there is no hurry. I want him to enjoy being a kid for a bit longer.
Happy birthday, Liam. I am proud to be your dad.
See you tomorrow.
I don't know why, but this seems appropriate.
There he is.