I’ve looked at this photo many times. I’ve looked at many photos of my son(s) and they almost unequivocally induce a smile or a laugh or dumb grin.
This photo always makes me pause. The shot makes me happy, but there’s something about it that strikes me as poignant, or foretelling, or some other fancy word I can’t think of.
I look at it, and I see myself and my oldest son.
I see young man who is now not so young. Not at all, in fact.
I see a little boy who is now not so little.
I see responsibility to a future for both of these people getting older.
And I think that’s what kind of freaks me out about this picture, that it’s faceless, and it almost seems shape-shifting as I look at it. We become older together before my eyes without having to imagine how we might look. It frightens me that when he’s ready for college, I really ought to have my shit together, and I just know I won’t. But I owe it to him to try.
But, hey kid – let me say this much:
You’ll never know a day that doesn’t include me telling you I love you.
I might not have all the money in the world to buy you stuff, but you’ll never miss an opportunity if I can help it.
Your laughter will never cease to bring me infinite joy.*
Did you know that at bedtime, if you said you wanted another book 100 times, you’d get 100 books?
Did you know that when I didn’t think we would ever have a biological kid, I knew exactly who you were? The boy you are today is unquestionably the boy we tried so hard to get here all those years. You make me believe in fate. I’ve known you for so long, but I’ve only been able to hold you for half of that time.
I want you to grow and to know yourself, to be really self aware, and to understand the kinds of things that will make you a happy and content human being. You will never have to worry about impressing me, just always be you.
Every midnight freak out, every whining episode about something only significant to you, I say in my head – ‘rise to the occasion, Michael’. I promise to be there for you. Not in just a figurative sense – but to be there – to be your home base.**
If I didn’t think it would give you a tummy ache, I’d let you eat as much ice cream as you wanted to, any time of the day.
Kid, you make me think about the words that come out of my mouth. You make me think about my body language. You make me think about how I’m going to look and feel in 15 years when you’re an adult. I don’t want to miss a thing, not one part, of your life. You don’t know it, but you make me want to be better. I promise to be better.
Lastly, kid – you have me so completely wrapped around your little finger that it’s ridiculous.
*Yesterday afternoon, he walked in front of a mirror and said, “I’M SO PRETTY!” I laughed so hard that it cracked him up and then we were both in hysterics for the better part of five minutes. He wound up peeing his pants, but it was worth it.
**this is an especially timely note because this morning at 4:00 a.m., I had a little boy having a 45 minute screaming fit because I wouldn’t call his friend Connor to have him come over and sleep on the bottom of his bunk bed. Lot’s of deep, cleansing breaths this morning. And then my 18 month old had surgery at 7:30, but that’s a totally different story…