Time Slips Away
When the dear and patient wife and I were expecting AJ, an acquaintance, a new father himself, explained the kind of feelings he was experiencing. Having a child, he said, was "like finding a new color in the rainbow."
Well, I get enough inquiries about my sexuality to embrace such a...er...dainty philosophy, but there's truth there. The truth is that you can never prepare yourself for what you are going to feel when that child arrives. It is a foreign concept until you experience it.
AJ arrived four years ago today.
This shriveled little thing comes screaming into a too brightly-lit world, covered in some kind of gelantinous packaging and instantly becomes the center of your entire existence.
At that moment, your life is over. You lose options, like hurrying down to the Quik-E-Mart before 2 a.m. to get another bottle of Jager.
At that moment, your life has just begun. Your every decision is now filtered through The Boy. Your every hope and dream has a new central character and it is no longer you.
You can't prepare, can only react. You laugh at how much you sound like your own parents and, for the first time, fully appreciate the lengths they went to raise you. It takes some getting used to, this wholesale responsibility for a helpless other. There are trials, smells, fear and unparalleled wonder. For hours, you simply sit and stare, prod them for recognition, goad them into a smile.
They grow fast these kids. Faster than you can document their daily changes. Always something new, something no child before could have accomplished or will ever duplicate. AJ walks early, before he's even a year old, and falls with equal aplomb. He's married to his pacifier, will never give it up. Until one day, he just does.
He's more like a person now. The way he screws his face up when you act silly. The way he measures his answers to difficult questions, beginning with a "Well," pausing to order his thoughts. He's much smarter than I, my mother never ceases to remind. He is more patient in his tasks, working them out, suprising his mother and I with his inginuity. We shake our heads and marvel, "How did he know that?"
He's funny and he knows it, at least knows what can get a laugh out of the adults. He never stops talking, narrarating his life, demanding you know even the tiniest details of his day. I never tire of listening.
He's gone through cycles, just like everyone. Times when he's horrible, or inconsolable and yes, purposefully insolent. But he's good. Deep within himself, he's good.
Our days are numbered, his mother and I. It won't be long before his social circle will include people far more important than us. When we will be afterthoughts, embarassments even. For now though, he remains loving. "Daddy, will you play with me?" "Mommy? Hug?" Forever and ever.
Once we moved him out of his crib, we tried very hard to keep him from joining us every night in our bed. Now, with age 4 looming, he continues to crawl between us regularly. It's been a while since we've sent him away. Been a while since we've complained about his kicking and snoring. Whatever his motivation, his fears or concerns, he wants to be with Mommy and Daddy. And we let him, for as long as he wants.
Happy Birthday, Goose. Slow down with the whole growin' up thing though, will ya?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Lincoln Log house to build.