Tue 9 Nov 2010
Okay, so when I didn’t have a kid I kind of got why people who had kids talked about them all the time, and I also kind of didn’t. This, of course, is coming from a guy who, when he is working on a play, can’t really talk of much else, so, yeah, I understand the hypocrisy.
Anyway, because of that relatively recent memory, I really do try not to talk about my kid all the time. I will say things when people ask. But I really try not to inject information about my kid when someone starts talking to me about theirs, because I hate that. There is an odd smacking of one-upmanship to it, though I know many people just think of it as a sort of strange and understood parental dialogue.
Having said that…
My kid is at that stage where he is beginning to blow my mind.
He and I were in the kitchen yesterday, and I stepped out to grab something from the dining room. When I came back into the kitchen, he was sitting at the kitchen table, on one of the kitchen chairs, with a pen in his hand, scratching onto one my omnipresent memo pads.
I stopped in the doorway, staring at him. He looked just like a little man writing a note.
He looked up at me like, “What? I’m just a little man writing a note. Nothing new to see here.”
It was such a small moment in a long day imbedded within a larger week. But he’s only 16 months-old. It just didn’t seem normal. After all, it wasn’t something he was doing two days ago.
But that moment highlighted something for me, and it’s something that really separates my wife and me. For her, the past is of utmost importance. It is the thing that laid the groundwork of who she is, of her important relationships, of the things she finds essential to her understanding of the world.
I’m not so into the past. I’m kind of a present guy. And that has caused some problems. I don’t have the greatest memory. My high school friendships have slipped away — though Facebook has rekindled some, to my great joy.
I don’t think either outlook really has an advantage, but I also think that together we really complement each other.
But here is the grist of the thing (yes, I meant “grist” because I have ground this thought down like grains of wheat): I have always felt that I have a distinct and finite end in this world. Tomorrow has always been a Christmas gift sitting under today’s evergreen. And the older I get, the more out of shape I get, the closer that finality seems.
And our outlooks can be seen in one simple situation. I would like to get my kid’s hair cut. My wife doesn’t want his hair cut. Now, I know this is almost an archetypal parental thing. But I think there may be a bit of a difference.
Sure there are times that my boy looks like a girl. But for those who know me, you know that really doesn’t bother me. I pretend that it does, because it helps out with some humor. But I have never really been concerned about gender identification.
My wife’s desire comes from her wish for our kid to stay young as long as possible. And I totally get that. But I would like to see him grown, because I just don’t think that’s a given for me.
So when I walked into the kitchen and saw my 16 month-old boy sitting at the table with pen in hand, I saw him, if only for a moment, working on a kindergarten Thanksgiving hand-turkey, a what-I-did-last-summer middle school essay, his high school algebra homework, and even his college application — yes, honey, I’m pretty sure it was for Grinnell. And that was one of the best tomorrow-gifts I ever opened.
So, I guess you’re right, honey, those blonde curls are pretty cute. Maybe we’ll get his hair cut next month.