I am the mother of three boys, which means one of them gets to be oldest (like I was), one is the baby (like my husband was), and poor Colton is the middle child. No one understands what it’s like, he sometimes says. And he’s probably right.

Colton was the easy one. I don’t think I threw up once when I was pregnant with him. He really liked vanilla milkshakes, though, so I gained a ton of weight. I had a prenatal appointment the week before he was born, and since it was close to Valentine’s Day, the doctor jokingly asked if we could please wait a bit so she could spend the 14th with her sweetie. Ever obliging, Colton waited and was born on the 15th.

He arrived chubby and pink and happy. He went to bed early, was up for a quick drink in the night, and then slept late in the morning. Even after he woke up, he’d coo in his crib until his wet diaper or empty belly began to annoy him. He smiled early and walked late. Perfect.

The only thing he fussed at was being in his car seat. He hated that. But otherwise, he was the sweetest baby you’d ever seen.

Now he’s fifteen, and I’m scratching my ever-graying head and wondering where on earth the time has gone. When did that sweet, cuddly baby become this tall, charming young man?

He wants a unicycle for his birthday. Or maybe an accordion, ’cause they’re kind of cool and he likes to be different. Or, maybe one of those ancestry kits that National Geographic is offering. They are way cool. You swab your cheek, mail the kit back, and find out where in the world you came from. And you become part of the huge genome study that NG is sponsoring.

He wants me to make him Flossie’s Chocolate Sheet Cake. (Thank you, Pansy Bien, for submitting this recipe to the Western Christian College Millennium Cookbook!) When he was little, I’d buy a package of zoo animal figures from the dollar store to decorate his birthday cake with. Now, I suppose he’ll settle for an extra piece and double the ice cream.

My friend Anne and I have been talking about our boys (she has three of them, also), and about how quickly it’s going, and how it seemed like we had all the time in the world when we began this parenting journey. And about how now, we’re counting the time left and thinking hard about making the rest of it count, and, like my dad wrote in an earlier post, about finishing strong.

Yesterday, while we were sitting together in the living room, Colton said, “In five years I’ll be twenty.”