Eleven years ago tomorrow was the happiest day of my life. Bar none.
It was the day my son Kyle was born.
And this year, I had an especially unique birthday present request from the young man who, even if he lives to be 100, will always be my baby boy.
"Hey Mom," said my tiny angel, "I wanted to ask for something."
"Yes, sweetie?" I said, expecting an appeal for his 5,000th video game or 12th iPod.
"Could you please pick me up some earrings?" he asked from way over in left field.
Before I even had time to explain that: a) I'm all for self expression but, b) he's far too young to consider defacing his body in any way, shape or form, and c) there's no way on God's green earth and while I'm breathing that he's putting diamond studs - or those containing precious or faux gems of any other type - in his ears, nose, eyebrows, lips or any other part of the birthday suit that made its debut 11 years ago - he said something that made me feel all at once better ... and so much worse.
"They're for my girlfriend."
Gulp. Again, gulp.
"I'm sorry, who now?" I said, knowing full well he was referring to the little gal from his school who calls our home about thrice a day. Ironically, she is a day older than Kyle.
Heck, and I thought deciding whether or not to send out my standard 9,658 Christmas cards - or reducing that number by about five - was going to be my holiday conundrum this year.
Girlfriend? Wasn't it just last month we took down Kyle's racecar bed and extinguished his Blue's Clues nightlight?
No, no, no, Mommy's not ready for the whole "girlfriend" extravaganza. I felt myself begin to wade into some very uncomfortable, unfamiliar and otherwise icky territory. It felt a lot like I imagine quicksand.
However, being the completely grown-up, level-headed and composed mother I am, I did the only thing I could. I completely ignored him.
"What? Hmm, oh, mmhmm, uh, yeah, er, uh hmm," was the exact response, I believe.
To the Bat Cave I went and flipped on the universal signal that moms send up to their cohorts during times of utter duress. I call it the Caffeine Beam.
After stopping off at Dunkin' Donuts in Mineral Ridge for an extra large cup of joe, I took a deep breath and began to ask my girlfriends for guidance on this shocking turn of events.
First up, Joanna Dascenzo, a Howland native and a very close pal on whom I regularly rely for advice.
"Well, looks like we're going to have to enter her into the witness relocation program," she said, confirming my knee-jerk reaction.
OK, two extra-larges later and I was thinking a little more clearly.
"Why don't you gently explain that that is an entirely premature term for their age," said my wise and wonderful friend Liz Holter of Boardman, not only a fellow mom of a boy but also a teacher. That made sense, though I didn't really want to solidify Kyle's suspicion that I am, indeed, the most un-cool ogre on the planet.
And so, after consulting my two master senseis (my mom and sister) and with the clarity only someone who's consumed an inordinate amount of caffeine can muster, I reminded Kyle that all of his classmates are just FRIENDS at this stage of the game, decided not to make too much of the intended gesture, and - picked up a nice pair of non-allergenic star studs for him.
Happy Birthday, Kyle - and your little pal, too.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.