Nine Years Ago I Became A Father

It is not really appropriate for this post, but I keep playing and replaying This Time by John Legend. First time hearing it and I love it. Or maybe it does, let’s see.

He was due some time around the second week of January but he showed up on his schedule. I know, I should be able to tell you what his due date was, but I don’t remember. Ask his mother, I am sure she’ll remember.

I remember other things. I remember her waking me up at 1:30 A.M. to tell me that her water broke. I remember calling the hospital and being told to take a shower and then come in. All sorts of other memories are there too, the drive to the hospital and the waiting.

Moms don’t understand how hard it is for the dads. I know, you’re rolling your eyes because you are doing the actual work, but remember for men it is hard. We are not programmed to stand around and do nothing and yet that is all we can do. We can’t deliver the baby ourselves, at least most of us can’t. Although I had seen enough television to know that I needed a newspaper and boiled water.

The boy may have been early, but he took his sweet time in making an appearance. It was 3:30 and change, the afternoon of the 29th when he poked his head out. I know because I was there. I stood next to the doc and watched this bloody mess, and it was both bloody and messy.

I stared at the head trying to decipher the mystery of whether my first born would be male or female. I watched as he made his appearance and noticed the obvious and began thinking about his bris, baseball, Bar Mitzvahs, condoms, girls, college and marriage.

Ok, I can’t say that I remember thinking about each of those things, but I know that I was overwhelmed. Amazed and humbled to think that this tiny creature, a boy, my son was finally here. As the nurse cleaned him up I talked to him, whispered secrets for his ears only. Promised eternal love and devotion, said that I would protect and educate him.

Nine years later the boy who was 7 pounds 16 ounces (the nurse told me that and I repeated it over and over until my father reminded me that he was 8 pounds) and 20 inches is over four feet tall and around 70 pounds. I can’t carry him like a football anymore. I can’t put him over my shoulder and walk with him for hours anymore.

He still can’t beat me in a footrace or out muscle me, but the time is coming. My days as leader of the pack are limited in some ways and I am ok with it, most of the time.

The big guy has an insatiable curiosity about the world around him. He loves to read and play with Legos. He does Sudoku puzzles and plays soccer. In between it all he comes to me and asks me to play with him. I try to give him the time he wants and feel guilty when I can’t.

We talk about everything. There are a million conversations that I don’t list here. We know each other well enough that we can communicate by grunts and whistles, a look or a nod. He tells me that when I am angry I have a scary face. I laugh and tell him that he is talking about grandpa. He laughs and says that grandpa never gets angry.

He is nine. The baby is history and the toddler a memory. He is not quite a little boy anymore but still not a preteen. I see so much potential in him. I do what all parents do. I try to help him avoid making the stupid mistakes I made, steer him towards the smarter choice.

We talk about making smart decisions a lot. I tell him that I will always be there for him. I promise to be his rock and then I tell him that my job is to help him acquire the tools to be a mensch, his job is to use them.

And it works because I believe it and so does he. We understand our agreement. It works.

I often wonder what kind of person he is going to grow up to be. Will he be kind? Will he be wise? Will he be the clever man or something else.

Happy Birthday Little Jack, your old man (he loves to say that now) loves you.

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