Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy 19th Birthday, Lad!

The cake was yummy!
Our youngest son, JV, turns nineteen today.  Happy Birthday, my beamish boy! He's away at college and we really miss his smiling face and the way he would walk around the house humming.
Not only do I love him because I'm his Dad, but I really like him as a person. If I were a fellow student, I'd want him as my friend.
Der junge Mann (family joke) has accomplished much in these few years.
At an early age he put together a portfolio of drawings. He doesn't share them, but they showed a lot of innate skill. Darling, who is a good artist herself, once tried to teach my Darling Daughter, Youngest Son and I how to draw a tree. DD and I drew something resembling little bird tracks across the page, studiously focusing on the paper and how the tree looked. Trust me, neither of our drawings even resembled the tree (sorry, Honey, but it's true).  However, the lad not only drew a passable tree, he shaded it. Darling didn't even mention shading the tree. I'm sure it would have made mine look a little better.
The Lad also has a knack for storytelling, though he won't admit that either. He wrote a few short stories when he was still quite small. The interesting part is that I liked the characters and the plots were not linear. Good stuff.
When he entered High School he learned to play the trombone. He was pretty good at it, but could have been much better if he ever practiced. I mean, even I know that pulling the horn out twice a week for twenty minutes isn't enough. The fascinating part is that he learned so much about music. I have an app on my iPad that plays notes. I plucked at it for a solid ten minutes one day, trying to figure it out. Walking in the living room he sat down and watched me. "Let me see it for a sec, Dad." He tapped a few symbols, then played a song for me and walked away. I mean, what's with that? Now he is learning the guitar on his own. Right after we saw The Hobbit he came home and plucked out the tune for Misty Mountain. Last time I saw him he played Happy Birthday for one of his sisters. No big deal.
Where he excels is playing on-line games (it's partly genetic). For a while he was ranked in the world-wide standings as a DPS hunter in World of Warcraft. If you don't know what that means, that's okay. It means, quite simply, a w e s o m e. He got bored and moved to League of Legends where he again gained world-wide ranking. The thing about the games is he actually studies them. He stays up into the wee hours of the mornings studying the techniques of world-class players.
Too bad the games aren't Olympic sports.
Under a pseudonym he also supplied me with the information to write an app (currently only on Droid) for how to play one of the League of Legend champions. It's my most widely downloaded app. (I say that with some sadness, by the way.)
He shows strong leadership skills. As section leader for the trombones, he often told me of incidents where he had to step in and help some of the other students. More than that, one of my friends, a man at my church, told me that he respects my son. He told me "If there was ever a problem on my bus, John simply stepped in and took care of it. I never had to worry about the students." Then he added, "I really miss him this year."
Even at a young age, JV showed a deep love for other people. One of the most memorable incidents for me was when he accidentally hurt my Darling Daughter. I'm not sure which of them cried harder.
That love for people and personal stability manifests itself in his relationship with his girlfriend. In a few weeks they will have a four-year anniversary. For a nineteen year old boy, that's pretty awesome. She's a fantastic girl, and they are happy together. That's better than a lot of couples I know.
During the trip to Israel a few years ago, he showed a keen interest in the local lands and customs, as well as a magical affinity for foreign languages. He climbed Masada along with the other young folks on the trip, including my Darling Daughter. Don't underestimate that feat. The heat radiated from the rocks and beat down from the fierce sun, punishing everyone who tried to climb the narrow path to the top. He did get pretty tired during the trip. My favorite photo shows him sitting on the floor in one of the museums, sound asleep.
What impresses me most about my youngest son is his true, heart-felt desire to be close to God. His theological questions tend to be well thought out and comprehensive. They show a strong reliance on God, a belief in the Bible and a deep love for his fellow man.
That's good grounding, regardless of where he goes in life.
Happy Birthday, young man!

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