What a special evening, as family members gathered to celebrate Dayan, my eldest grandson, who turned 16 today! Dayan chose the restaurant Red, Hot & Blue for a tradition in our family…The Birthday Dinner Out. His mom Elissa, step-dad Josh, step-brother Jonathan, Aunt Adriel, Nate Pugh, Great-Aunt Linda, Mimi Pat, Papa Greg and me all joined him in the feasting and festivities. We missed Great-Papa Walter and Nate, Megan and their three kids, who couldn’t join us this evening.
We chatted as we ate, telling stories and sharing accomplishments of the day and the week. Jonathan, who is fascinated by the current moustache trend, and can’t wait to grow one, entertained us with a new card game that I found for him today. Called the Best ‘Staches Ever, the object of the game is to look at a moustache silhouette and guess the owner. There are clues printed on the backs of the cards. It was fun and we laughed every time Jonathan held the ‘stache up to his own upper lip.
This was a milestone birthday for Dayan. I would have loved to surprise him with a new car. Gratefully, Josh is providing one for Dayan to drive. Instead, Dayan was surprised by the gift his mom and step-dad gave him…an Alienware System…which is a computer console hybrid. Yeah, I didn’t know what that was either! Dayan did though. Elissa cleverly hid a folded up piece of paper in a small box containing a Mine Craft figurine. As he unfolded the paper and realized what was printed on it, his face lit up. We all laughed as he hugged his mom, and kissed her cheek…over and over. Dayan’s home computer crashed recently, and although he has a laptop for school, he has missed playing his computer games. He was so thrilled with this amazing gift. It will arrive at his house Thursday.
After consulting with Elissa, Greg and I gave him an external hard drive with a DVD component so he can connect it to his new system, and continue to play his older disc games. And we supplied him with a Steam gift card, for downloading, or maybe it is accessing, games directly. This Yaya is working to keep up with all this new technology! I just know Dayan was happy with these gifts. He also received a nice amount of cash from Mimi, Adriel, and his Nana Debi and Papa Mike, Josh’s sweet parents.
This has been an amazing year of growth for Dayan. He literally grew taller. He has also been practicing driving, and will get his driver’s license soon. He tried out for and secured the only tuba spot in the Wind Ensemble, made it into the District Honor’s Band, received an award for his short story, Numbers on a Wall. He excelled academically, receiving top grades in his classes, and earned a place on the Varsity Academic Bowl Team. He took early college entrance exams and his email has been flooded with offers from colleges across the US. He welcomed a step-father and step-brother into his home, escorting his beautiful mother down the aisle last November and standing at her side during the wedding ceremony.
I looked back through my blog posts, and realized how many adventures he accompanied me on since his birthday last year. We saw plays, musicals and movies together. Dayan introduced me to Dr. Who and taught me tech tips. We played the GPS scavenger hunt game called Geocaching, created Mail Art, made fudge at Christmas, created a fun geography related game, walked together during the Memorial Walk of Silence and sat in the audience during the dedication of the Butterfly Memorial Park. I watched Dayan march in football games and parades with the band, perform during concerts and competitions, receive awards, dress up as Steve at Jonathan’s birthday party, and Dr. Who at the huge family Halloween party, drive my car. He taught me to play Mine Craft, or at least, he tried to! He’s gracious with my failures.
I am beyond grateful that I get to be Dayan’s Yaya. This young man has one of the most amazing hearts I have ever encountered. He loves his family and his friends. He’s intelligent, talented, determined, open to new opportunities and trying new things, unafraid of the unknown future. He travels through life with easy grace and his warm, beautiful smile, his old soul shining out through his wise brown eyes. This past year I’ve seen Dayan become clear on what he wants to do in life, what gifts to offer to the world. His keen mind and love of geography and politics will serve him well as a political analyst for the government, possibly the CIA. He’s researched schools and knows exactly what it will take to reach his goal. And his creativity will have outlets in his music, his drawing and his writing. I was honored to have him as a guest blogger last week.
I know it is natural for a grandmother to be proud of her grandchild, and I most certainly am. And I would want to know Dayan even if I wasn’t his Yaya. He accepts me as I am. I can be my best self, which is sometimes my goofiest self, with Dayan. We laugh and share and dream and put actions behind our intentions, bringing them into reality. He teaches me about seeing the best in others, about going after what I want, about living from my heart. He offers his love without condition, his thoughts without fear, his trust without expectations. I am so excited to see where his path leads him, and I have no doubt he will follow it with determination…and joy. I am honored to walk beside him, literally now, and from a distance later, as he reaches adulthood and moves onward and upward in his education and his life. Happy, HAPPY number 16 Dayan. I love you with all my heart.