The boy is 14


Mario turned 14 on September 4. It was a bit of a wild card as to whether he would be able to celebrate or not. He got sick the previous weekend; he had a horrible sore throat, cough, low-grade fever, and congestion. I took him to urgent care on Saturday, and he tested negative for strep and COVID. It is just a nasty bug, they told us. He felt worse on Sunday and could not head to school on Monday. He tried to go back on Wednesday but felt horrible after school. We tested him for COVID, strep and mono on Thursday and all were negative. He finally felt better on Friday but stayed home so he would feel better on his birthday. You know he is getting more mature when all he wants for his birthday is a trip to IKEA to find furniture for his new attic bedroom.

Patty came in on Saturday morning, which was another wish Mario had for his birthday – to see his grandma. We went to lunch at Rooster’s (much to Maria’s dislike), and then headed up to IKEA. Mario refused to allow Jon and I to walk around with he and Patty. Jon and I had enough of IKEA within 15 minutes but did manage to score some new dinner plates. Mario found a couch he liked along with cushions he thought I’d love because they were only $6 each but still soft (he knows his mama’s love for a good deal).

We came home and opened presents. Maria was the only one to purchase an actual present. Mario wanted a microphone for his gaming off of Amazon and she got it for him (she even paid half)! He was charged up and immediately walked over to give her a hug. I live for those moments of tenderness between them because they so rarely happen anymore; however, I can always guarantee some affection between them if Maria gets him a present:)

Later that evening, Jon and I were invited to a party at the parent’s house of one of Mario’s friends. The mom informed me that she had gotten a huge DQ cake for Mario so we told Mario he had to come with us.  I got to embarrass him a bit by having everyone sing happy birthday. He endured it because he knew he had a whole DQ cake to devour afterwards.

Leading up to his birthday, Mario went round and round on what he wanted for his birthday. He does this every year. He will want something a couple of months before his birthday, and then will think of something else a month before and then something else two weeks before…. This year, he badly wanted a moped. He researched and learned that 14-year-olds can get licenses. I don’t know if he lost interest because the thought of a new bedroom on the third floor outweighed the moped or because we kept saying no to the moped, but by August he was on to a new attic bedroom as a birthday gift.

He recently moved his PC and desk up to the attic because he wants privacy while he berates and laughs with his friends on-line. I was hesitant to allow him up there because of the window AC unit, and the amount we have to spend on cooling off the upstairs. But his dad allowed it, likely channeling his frustration with never having his own room as a kid. I would have never dreamt that we would allow him to play video games so much but since Covid, it has become the activity of choice for him and all of his friends. I justify the amount of time on the video games because he is chatting with his friends the entire time. However, God only knows what those games will do to his brain 10 years from now. Who knows, maybe he’ll use his skills and be a famous gamer or create a much-loved app.

He cannot wait to decorate his attic bedroom. Hence, why we had the couch purchase. He is also getting new carpet and a new desk. Jon and I figure that it will help the resale value of the house so we don’t feel like we are spoiling him too much….

This year, Mario became obsessed with building muscle. He was on a kick to start creatine, which we quickly shut down. However, he has now moved onto simple protein powder. We agreed to it if he actually maintains a good diet in addition to it. He is his mother’s child with his love for lifting weights. He tore a ligament in his hand and had to get a cast. The first question he asked the doctor was whether he could still lift weights. It nearly made me cry with pride:)

He loves himself some rap music – playing Kanye to me the other day as we drove to the grocery. Again, he is his mother’s son.

His favorite sport remains basketball. He got into a spring league with the Pumas. It was a bit rough in the beginning because he didn’t play much, and he didn’t know the new coaches, but then he ended up really elevating his game, and starting throughout the rest of the season. It was a joy to watch him develop, and watch him get more confident.

He got spoiled with vacations this year. He went to Savannah with Patty and his three cousins. He now loves the beach. This is 180° turn from six years ago when he was scared to death to go in the water because he thought he would be attacked by a shark. Thank you Jaws. He also got to go on a trip to Myrtle Beach with three of his buddies. He learned how to wakeboard, and loved it. He’s been begging to head back to the beach since he arrived home.

He’s got a set of dudes that he hangs out with regularly. This summer was so nice because he biked everywhere. Of course, because they biked everywhere, this typically entailed lunch out nearly every day. Jon and I decided early on in the summer that he would have to do chores and mow the grass in order to earn $25 a week. He spent that every week at Chipotle or Noodles. They played a lot of wiffleball and hung out at the l football field. I bought him a pool pass but he only ended up going down there a handful of times. He has a buddy who has a pool at his house so the boys decided that it was much cooler to go over there.

He started to show interest in girls – Jon and I only found that out from hearing rumors from other parents and from looking at Life360 and seeing him at a girl’s house down the street. He and his buddies would hang out with her and her girlfriends in the summer evenings. By hanging out, I mean they say on her porch and looked at their separate phones together:) I am dreading that whole scene – I keep telling him that I am his one and only love but he doesn’t quite agree with me….

He went out to the farm again this year for a week of work with my dad. They built a pergola and bailed a lot of hay. I went out on the last day to help them out, and it was a great work out. I keep telling my dad that he should get a strongman competition out there.

He loves to play the game Rust with his buddies. He has no desire to watch TV shows or movies with his mom anymore. However, I did find that if I would sit down and watch Rust on YouTube video with him, he will allow it. So, I bit my lip and sat with him on many days to watch the latest tactics in Rust. I will take those moments when I can get them.

He likes to take car rides with me to Speedway to get energy drinks and a bag of chips (usually around 10 pm). We were getting one dollar lottery tickets but then the lottery machine broke down. Jon teases me that I will be in the old person’s home and Mario will come visit me with lottery tickets to scratch with him.

Jon and Mario get their time together by heading out to Dover and fishing. Mario did not get his Canadian fishing trip this year due to Covid but he is hoping for next year. He loves that time with Jon.

Mario and Giovanni got to spend a week down at Patty’s house this summer as well. They love to walk around Marietta by themselves. They also love to play in the woods near Patty’s house. They stay up late and watch stupid shows together. They egg each other on, which will inevitably get them into trouble (hopefully while in Marietta so not on our watch!).

Mario has a kind heart. He doesn’t openly show it like some people – always hugging or asking questions or talking incessantly. He’s more the silent type. But he does care. When I came home from surgery and tried to walk to the kitchen, he yelled at me to sit still or I could hurt my knee. When he writes notes to Patty, he always adds a sentence hoping she’s taking her medicine and doing her exercises.

He is good with Giovanni’s kids when they are in Dover. He fishes with them and plays with them, and they adore him. He is also good with Elena when she comes to town. He doesn’t want to spend too much time with her but the time he does spend, she adores. He’s gotten better about reacting poorly (to put it nicely)when we ask him to take out the garbage or do his chores. I think he knows he has it pretty good with us so he has learned to do as we ask when we ask.

He still likes to wrestle with me although I’m bound to break a limb if I continue much longer. The boy is strong – he even pushed Jon backwards the other day when they were play fighting (Jon will swear he caught him off guard). He cracks Jon and I up with his spoofs of Jon and his quips about school.

He spent a lot of his time at age 13 looking up how to make quick money. He swore that he was going to start buying shoes off of Stock X and then resell them at a higher price. He talks about flipping houses and getting into the real estate market when he gets older. Or becoming a welder. He has no interest in college at this point in time and less he would be recruited to play basketball somewhere. We will see if that changes as he enters high school next year.

I love this kid with every ounce of my body, and I know he loves me and his family right back. Happy 14th to you, son!

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