The first thing I will share is that weeding six acres of land only a couple hours before a major milestone birthday party can be a little rough on your back, even with power tools. In fact, this much yard work made me feel every one of my 40 years. I limped into the house, hand on my aching back with a grimace on my face, covered in sweat, grass and dirt only to meet my wife’s disapproving gaze.
“You know we have guests coming in an hour, right?” Second lesson I’ve learned. The wife is ALWAYS right.
As my birthday approached, some of my friends asked me if I was feeling old or if the birthday bothered me as I was approaching official, “Over the Hill” status. I immediately responded that, no, I wasn’t feeling old and that I was actually looking forward to the party, but then I started wondering, should I be bothered? Should I be concerned? Should I “feel” old?
As I pondered the inevitable passing of time sitting on the couch one night, my 5-year-old son came out of nowhere and jumped in my lap, full force, nearly knocking the wind out of me. He laughed and said, “Daddy, chase me!”
Gasping for breath and feeling a significant amount of pain, I did what any dad would do in this situation. ... I got up and chased him through the house. If I had any doubts about my age, my children are quick to beat the thoughts out of my mind.
The third lesson I learned preparing for my party is that children truly do keep you young.
A week prior to my party, my son was playing with another little boy and girl his age while the parents looked on. At one point in the play session, the little girl ran crying to her mother. When asked what was wrong, she pointed to the other boy. My son, not one to take a bully lightly, turned to the boy that made his little friend cry and kicked him in the shin. Fortunately the kick wasn’t too rough, but at some level I was proud of my son for standing up for this little girl ... or at least that is the way I’d like to view it. He could have just been upset that he interrupted their play session, but I like to believe he was standing up against the bully.
The fourth lesson I learned the week before my big party is that it is always right to defend the honor of a good girl.
In four decades of life, I have learned many lessons. Unfortunately at my age, I can only remember the last week or so. So the last lesson I have learned is enjoy every year, every day, every moment and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.
Happy 40th birthday to me!
(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Matt’s family adventures, or misadventures, visit www.mattryerson.blogspot.com. Matt’s column appears every Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)