We ventured to Prague with high expectations. It seems as though anyone that has been holds this Eastern European city in high regard. We now do too.
Prague is alive. It’s the only way I can think to describe it. It has a life all its own and it’s consuming. When you step foot on its streets you become part of its ceaseless energy.
It reminds me of New York City in that way – always on and filling you with its very breathe. But unlike NYC, where I feel a need to match the energy; in Prague we could walk for hours without tiring, but also sit for hours without feeling a need to accomplish anything.
It’s charming, eclectic, modern and old. You feel surrounded by happy people – families, friends, couples, kids, stag or hen parties, retirees – always gregarious groups.
But then you can turn a corner and find yourselves on a quiet, narrow, cobbled street with small interesting shops or atop a hill with a stunning view of the castle.
It amazed me that in a city with a constant buzz and people awake at all hours, that you could find these quiet, uninhabited places so easily.
It didn’t take long for Prague to become one of our favorite cities. In fact, it even made the top spot for a few of us. The power rankings by trip’s end will certainly be interesting!
We spent time visiting synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, churches in the Lesser Quarter, strolled and lingered on the Charles Bridge every day, hiked through parks by day and night, played cards in the square and marveled at the castle grounds. It was busy, yet relaxed and the perfect place for a golden birthday.
Have you heard of golden birthdays? In our family they are revered. It’s when you turn the age of your birthdate. In Mr. N’s case this year, he turned 12 on the 12th. At first he was a bit grumbly about not being home for his special day, but once he sat for a bit on the square in Prague, he knew this was the best place for a golden celebration.
So we turned the day over to him…we ate where Mr. N wanted to eat, shopped where he wanted to shop, and played what he wanted to play. By the end of the day we were stuffed full and exhausted. As for his favorite part of the day – when he and Miss A memorialized the occasion with a caricature. Mr. N particularly appreciated his new physique. It was a very happy, golden birthday in a very happy and golden city.
It’s hard to believe that my little boy, born at only three pounds, two months early, has blossomed into the young man before me. He is smart, sweet, imaginative and has an increasingly funny sense of humor. His laugh, from when he was only a few months old to now, is still my favorite sound in the world. It’s unabashed and absolutely contagious. It’s a genuine, gut busting, belly laugh –so honest and vulnerable.
He is creative and can spin a yarn like nobody’s business. He entertains us with his stories and observations. He delights his little sister with his tall tales and jokes. He is not afraid to laugh, cry, scream or squeal. He is not embarrassed about who he is or afraid to be himself; whether that fits with the “norm” or not.
He is empathetic – riding each of mine and Mike’s highs and lows. And he is the only one that can turn Miss A from a bad mood to sheer laughter. He is strong and sweet. He matches wit with his dad and grandpas and he fiercely, but gently loves his mom, sister and grandmas in a way only little boys can.
Sure he’s also frustrating, challenging and stubborn. He hates to be alone, but is fiercely independent. He doesn’t like to make decisions, but hates having them made for him. He’ll get lost in whatever he’s doing at the moment, but can just as easily forget the task at hand. He’ll mouth off and back talk. He’ll smart and sass. He’ll sneak and try to break the rules. He’ll sulk and pout. And he’ll hold a grudge for an hour. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, because he’s emotionally honest.
When he’s mad, you know. When he’s sad, you know. When he’s happy, you know. When he’s tired, you know. When he’s scared, you know. When he’s peaceful, you know. When he’s thoughtful, you know. And he’s not afraid to talk.
He can hold a conversation with the best of them. From the time he was three he could sit in a restaurant and happily participate in the conversations around him for hours at a time – and he still can. He’s shy, but not afraid to make friends; and he’s utterly accepting, non-judgmental and open-minded. He’s not afraid to work at relationships and he is utterly loyal.
Despite his stubbornness and ability to pout for hours, he’ll think. He’ll talk. He’ll try and work out problems. Sometimes you’ll need to press him, but he’ll work hard to get his point across, listen to yours and find compromises. He’s not always happy with rules or consequences, but he’ll listen to reason. And he’ll always make sure you know he loves you – despite his anger or annoyance. He’s learned a lot in his 12 years, but I do believe he’s taught us more.
And like this fascinating city of Prague he is alive and an energy all his own. While he was born into our world, it’s clear that we are now a part of his. He is a light and force all his own. He still has much to learn, feelings to master, and experiences to have before our job is done, but I think he’s off to a sound start (even if I am a bit biased).
So as he is on the cusp of becoming a teenager and changing faster than one might hope, to him I simply want to say, I love you, I’m proud of you and….stay gold.