Sixteen

A life of invention and adventure

Today my first born son Jesse turns 16. He has a busy schedule. He has pre-ordered fruit salad and yoghurt for breakfast (keeping it light for the eating ahead), then he has booked his drivers license test for 9 am, after which friends and family will adjourn for a yum cha lunch. Dinner is yet to be decided.

His schedule tells you a bit about him. He’s a teenage boy so of course his stomach is important, but he also likes to live and eat adventurously. When we go out to dinner he orders congee, or duck, or something similarly exotic, and invariably his choices are delicious. When he plays he likes to play hard, whether it’s spear fishing, shooting, surfing, experimenting in the back shed or whipping up some dessert in the kitchen. He is taking his driving test on the first appointment of the first day he is eligible. He will drive the required hours and I have no doubt he will take the next test on this same day in one years time. He is focused and he is fearless. He has ridden motorbikes, horses, camels, elephants and a turtle and has swum with dolphins, sharks and humpback whales.

Mole for dinner, Salt Lake City

Mole for dinner, Salt Lake City

When he decides he is interested in something he thoroughly researches his topic and then goes hard until he attains mastery in whatever it is he’s into at the time. In 2012 it was the production of beef jerky, making knife handles from burls and furthering his archery skills. A lot of his friends and peers are into more traditional sports and pursuits but he’s never been one to bow to peer pressure and has always followed his own interests.

Boabab, Tanzania

Boabab, Tanzania

Over the years he has given us our fair share of anxious moments. The time he was 2 and he crashed into Bronte pool head-first in the middle of Winter. The time he was 5 and got bitten by an insect and started swelling up and turning red in the face in the middle of nowhere when we were camping. The time he was 12 and the school called. His lip had swollen to three times its normal size because a bee had bitten him. He was chasing it in order to eat the stinger because he’d heard they were delicious. The call from the friend’s mum from their farm “Jesse’s alright BUT but he’s in a helicopter on his way to the hospital” when he was 15.

Nusa Lembogan, Bali

Nusa Lembogan, Bali

Days that stand out for me. The day he got his superman suit. The day he met his sister. Spotting lions on safari in Africa. The time he shot his first rabbit with a gun & proceeded to skin it, gut it and prepare it for eating (this kid grew up in Bondi!). Diving for abalone,  preparing it and cooking it for the family to eat when camping on the South Coast. The day he rang us to tell us he had shot and killed a feral goat with his bow on his friend’s farm (there’s a bit of a theme here).

On safari in Tanzania

On safari in Tanzania

Having a son has taught me many things. When Jesse was young we discovered new worlds inhabited by dinosaurs and pirates. We then explored rocks and minerals, reading Harry Potter, and later the Lord of the Rings. We debated the merits of the subsequent movies and what should have been left in or out. Recently my debating skills have been further honed when Jesse became interested in hunting feral animals and took a  pro-hunting in national parks stance, whereas I am staunchly against it.

Spearfishing, Northwest Island

Spearfishing, Northwest Island

Before having kids I thought I was going to be a perfect parent. But from the moment I met that vulnerable little baby I realised that was impossible and I was just going to try and do the best I could. I’m still trying. I think despite our many mistakes his father and I did a pretty good job. Looking at him today I am overwhelmed with the mettle of the gorgeous young man that is my son.

Happy Birthday Jesse

Sixteen

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28 thoughts on “Sixteen

  1. Lakshmi Loves To Shop says:

    Happy Birthday Jesse! Isn’t it a wonderful age 🙂 my son turns 16 in three weeks time…it is very hard to believe sometimes that this thoughtful, handsome, intelligent young man is my son! In the words of Maria in the “Sound of Music”…”Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could. So somewhere in my youth or childhood…I must have done something good!”

    • I couldn’t agree more. What a great quote! I was looking for something suitable but couldn’t find anything that fit quite right. 16 feels like a big milestone – for mother and son – doesn’t it?

      • Lakshmi Loves To Shop says:

        A special and important milestone. I am from an all-girl family with only sisters so the relationship with boys was new for me! I find the relationship with my two sons such a wonderful gift that I appreciate every day 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday to Jesse. I love the way you write about him, Sueann. Your son has certainly had so many interesting experiences in his short life. I’m not surprised at all that you are bursting with love and pride. 🙂 Happy New Year to you and your family.

  3. Judy says:

    Wow Sue Ann! This was fantastic. As Jesse’s aunt I obviously knew some of this, but it was still a real eye-opener to have you tease out all the threads that make up this complex character of your son. I knew something of his interests but not of his approach to tackling them. You feel with Jesse that he’ll get a lot out of life as he puts in so much!
    He’s also lucky to have had parents like you and Tony – adventurous, responsible and principled. As parents, we’re all given our challenges, but the two of you have been better suited to meet these particular ones than I, for example, would have been!
    And, as always, you write beautifully and bring me new insights into Jesse.
    Happy birthday Jess. Love to you all.
    Judy

    • Oh what a beautiful comment & compliment! I think you’ve done a wonderful job with your 4 individuals too. Happy and safe travels xxS (he passed his Ls test this morning so here comes another challenge!)

  4. Great pictures!
    I love hearing moms of older boys and the highs and lows that come with raising a strong young man. It makes me want to hold on tight to my little boys but also eager to see what they will become.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! We can all learn something from those parents that have gone before us. I find myself listening avidly to parents who have been through the drinking, driving and girls phases now! It’s fascinating when you start to get glimpses of the men that they will become.

  5. Beautiful post! I have a son who is 7 and a daughter who is 10. Each has shown me the world in a unique perspective when looking through their eyes. Happy Birthday to your son and congratulations to you on doing such an outstanding job raising him.

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