Every so many years, Austin's birthday falls on the same day as Father's Day, and I have to share the limelight with him.
But I don't like to share so when this has happened in the past, I simply concocted a guilt trip about how he should honor me as his father and sacrifice his dream of having a special day all to himself. And then I remind him how I'm bigger than he is and that I can totally take him.
However, something has changed that has completely screwed that up. After this last year, I don't stand a snowman's chance in hell of stealing any limelight from this kid any more.
And why is that you ask? Well, for those of you who don't know, please allow me to explain.
Only one year ago at our city's 4th of July celebration, Austin saw our mayor preparing to give a speech and decided to "go for it" and mention his idea for a dream he had - to build a skate plaza in St. Cloud. What happened after that is like some far-fetched kind of movie plot, so seemingly implausible that if someone had suggested to you what was going to happen to him the following year, you would have laughed in their face.
To illustrate this clearer, here's a summary of events that have taken place over the last 11 1/2 months.
July 4, 2006 - Austin meets the mayor and tells him his idea
August 2006 - Austin is appointed to the St. Cloud Park and Recreation Board
October 2006 - Following a media blitz by area newspapers and all 3 local network affiliates, ABC News picks up the story and features Austin as the Person of the Week.
March 2007 - After several months of planning, fundraising events and more media coverage, Austin and the Mayor are featured guests on this very cool national podcast by The Gen Y Project.
May 2007 - The preliminary designs of the skate plaza are complete and local architects have created this animated flyover.
June 2007 - As retiring Park and Rec board members end their 3-year terms, new vacancies are opened up for board Chair and Vice-Chair. After electing a new board Chair, Austin is nominated and unanimously elected as the new Vice-Chair of the St. Cloud Park and Recreation Board.
Next - All details of this project including full media clips, newspaper articles and designs can be found at stcloudskatepark.com for anyone who wants to learn more. As well, you can click the "Skatepark" tag at the bottom to read all the other stories I've written about this wacky adventure. As for the next steps, Austin and the fundraising committee are busy planning more events and knocking on doors, and things are going very well. In fact, the mayor has already indicated that he hopes to break ground on the new plaza next summer.
And that only partially sums up Austin's year as a 14 year-old. Not a bad year's work - IF YOU'RE 50! Hmm, let's see - what did I accomplish when I was 14. Oh yeah, nothing.
So happy birthday bud. Keeping track of everything you've got going on is making me dizzy, but I hope I'm letting you know enough how proud I am of you and how much I love you. Because I am VERY proud, and I love you VERY much.
And I hope you have a fantastic 15th birthday and that you have a blast next week at skateboard camp.
But as for our shared birthday/Father's Day? You go ahead and keep the limelight, you deserve it. And all I want for a gift is for you to think that I had something to do with how you turned out.