As soon as the nurse plucks that red, screaming infant from his mother’s womb and place him/her in your arms you become a Dad. It’s an immediate association. You go from the awkward guy in scrubs to a father instantaneously. With a sudden awareness that it is now your responsibility of raising this little, screaming thing, who some would say, look just like you. If you were screaming at the top of your lungs like your life depended on it. For boob-food.
And so it continues. You take him home and try to make sure that he is fed, burped, dry, clean, warm or whatever other thing that might cause that dead-raising-bawl. The howling noise that make all men nervous. Then his tooth comes out and besides all the photo’s, you try to handle all the slobbering and crying and excessive shitting with an endless amount of advise from random strangers on how teething should actually be managed. Ranging from holding the kid upside down to feeding them brandy. (Of which you will try every single on out of pure desperation). Then he starts to walk and you try your best to prevent him from slamming his big head against book cases, door frames, table corners or the inevitable floor. Which normally results in more crying.
Then he develops a voice and starts talking in a language only his mother can understand, and you’re left wondering where this kid is spending his days. And days go past, and things change and then suddenly they reach a point where he can not only wipe his own arse, but he walks and talks without effort, has a bunch of friends over that will clean your pantry like a locusts swarm, and he feels equip to make his own decisions…which is when it’s Dad’s turn to start sobbing.
All parents have one common denominator when it comes to our kids. We try. We try our utmost to make a success of guiding that little screaming infant through the maze of life into adulthood. Trying our best to instil some basic qualities that will allow them to become productive members of society and if we’re lucky, decent human beings. In other words, no parent are purposefully raising serial killers. We try and avoid the mistakes our own parents made, only to discover that there is a whole set of new ones. We trust history won’t repeat itself and we hope to remain cool forever, only to wake up and smell the coffee. For that is never gonna happen. Experiencing resentment from your child comes with being a parent. It’s the real circle of life.
Still we try. Mainly because we love them more than life itself. Because they’ve changed our perception of why we are on earth. They give us purpose, a reason for waking up in the morning. They become our pride and joy. And that all happens on an average day. Imagine what happens on those days when they do something extraordinary. Moments when they leave you flabbergasted with nothing to say. Moments when time freezes and glitter falls from the heavens and there’s a ray of sunlight that highlights their whole face. Moments that you wish you could record, hoping that you will remember it forever. Moments where parents experience a level of unadulterated pride, parental bliss.
Like this weekend.
Dude was invited to a party. He told us that there would be alcohol at said party. (My heart skipped seven beats and the Wife almost fainted.) We did managed to compose ourselves and continued listening without saying a word. Most of his friends would be going. (The Wife had to sit down.) He said he would like to go because he didn’t want to feel left out when the kids would be talking about it come Monday morning. I took a million deep breaths and waited for my voice to return from wherever place it disappeared to. I could actually hear the blood coursing through my veins and I was fearing a heart attack. When the words finally escaped my mouth, I was as surprised as anyone. We told him that we trust him enough and didn’t mind if he wanted to go. We also told him that if it becomes unpleasant we would be there in a flash to bring him home. Then we left him with his own devices to make his decision.
I could see him struggling with the idea for a while and then he informed us that he would rather stay at home. He didn’t want to spend the whole evening defending his reasons for not wanting to have a drink, as he doesn’t consider it to be age appropriate for a person of fifteen. Besides the obvious fact that it is illegal.
Now I can go on a rant about those stupid, reckless, utterly irresponsible parents for being idiots in supplying beer to a bunch of teenagers OR I can celebrate the fact that Dude choose the higher ground and opted to remove himself from a very difficult situation. I am ecstatic to know that he has an opinion but more importantly, the back-bone to stand by it. No matter what. So my choice is easy, I’m celebrating. Which is why there is still glitter in my hair.
I understand how difficult it is being a teenager, having to navigate through all the new stuff they are exposed to. Having to make the hard choices. Parents have to provide guidance but at some point we need to allow them the freedom to make their own decisions. And then we need to trust their choices when they make them. This will be the first of many challenges he will face in his life AND it was our first step at letting go….
But let’s pause for a second or two… Can I just say how proud I am?
Dude, you’re turning fifteen in a week or two and that figure blows my mind. Time flies and it seems like only yesterday that you were crying because you had to take a bath in winter. Oh wait, that actually was yesterday…Anyhow…We are in awe of the young man you are becoming. You make me so extremely proud. And not just for being your father, but from one man to another. Respect Dude, respect.
The problem is that the English language doesn’t have a word that can accurately express my emotion. “Proud” just seems so damn inefficient today.
I love you my son.