Twenty-one - and counting.
My oldest turned 21 the other day. A lot has happened since he came into the world Sept. 28, 1992. As of today, he has been alive 7,678 days or 1,096 weeks or 252 months.
There were quite a few times I didn't think he would make it to the next day much less to his 21st birthday. Luckily for all of us, he's still here.
His name is Kyle Joseph Sitarz, and for 21 years and a handful of days, I've been thankful he is my son.
He's intelligent and curious. He's studious and inquisitive. He's creative and artistic. He's responsible and rational. He's athletic and energetic. He's annoying and a pest (especially to his younger brother). He's insightful and worldly. He's kind and gentle. He's quiet and humble. He's competitive and determined. He's handsome (with a great smile). He is a voracious eater. He's a practical joker. He's detailed. He loves animals. He likes music. He takes care of himself. He's his own man.
On his birthday, he humored my dad by partaking in a celebratory beer when we went out to eat. He opted for water with dinner, but did allow his grandfather to buy him a beer. I wasn't sure if he was going to finish it or not because he emptied his water glass first.
He's been fortunate to have spent time with grandparents on both sides of the family. They have enjoyed getting to know him, shared in his accomplishments and relished their time with him. Unfortunately, he's learned how to grieve with the passing of a grandmother.
He's shared his love for sports, having played baseball, basketball, soccer and football. He's now playing rugby. I'm still learning the rules, but it's a game that grows on you after you watch it for awhile. Go Greenville Griffins!
It's always been interesting to see what kind of art he would create. Some of his art is framed and hangs in our home and at his mom's house. He's painted on T-shirts, skateboards, cinder blocks, paper towels, footballs, flowerpots, rocks and who knows what else.
His discoveries of new things sometimes have startling results. From water bottle cap shooters to homemade air conditioners, I've began to think our house is more a science lab than a home.
A homemade zip line has helped turn my black hair to gray, especially when the tree limb at one end of the line snapped while he was in mid-flight.
He has spent days clearing a path from trees and rocks down a hill leading to our pond. Dirt was mounded at the edge of the pond and formed into a ramp. It didn't take but a second or two after the last shovel of dirt was added before it was being used to launch a speeding teenager on a bike into the pond. Was it a little unnerving? Sure, but it looked like a lot of fun.
He attached a rope to another large tree that became a swing. While there weren't any Tarzan yells coming from the woods, there was plenty of laughter coming from him and his brother.
While he and his brother have a love-hate relationship, there's little doubt he just adores his cousins and they think the world of him. He becomes their personal Jungle Jim without complaint. All they have to do is ask and he does.
As parents, we all make mistakes raising our kids. We also get things right the first time, and there's not a better feeling in the world knowing how you're raising your child is working.
There's nothing better than hearing what a wonderful young man your boy has become or how considerate he is. For all the good and the bad, there's nothing I would change about him. OK, maybe just one or two things.
Everything that has happened in his life has been for a reason and has made him who he is.
And that, as his dad, makes me very proud.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.