Monday, May 30, 2011

time, flying...

--"There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never. It never ends."
--jason robards in (and on) parenthood

there's a teenager in this house.

still waiting for the sitcom hilarity to ensue. will settle for the occasional laugh track.

how is it possible? what happened to the time between the day he was born and the day he said, "i want to go bungee jumping for my birthday."

it passed in the blink of an eye.

sitting here, looking at thirteen years' worth of photos, it occurs to me...i want a do-over.

very early on (once the shock wore off and we realized we had a healthy child) we said, "now we just need to keep from screwing him up." he was perfect at that moment, see, and any imperfections would obviously be our responsibility.

we didn't do such a great job. and by "we" i mean "me."

have you heard the really good advice, "don't say anything you can't take back"? i've said things to this child that i'd love to take back. angry things that absolutely did not accomplish what was intended. somehow, despite knowing better, i've managed to reinforce negative behaviors, and undermine positive ones. i've used "parenting" tactics that i said i'd never use. almost always in anger.

i'd like to go back and erase all of them, one by one, and the hurt they caused both of us.

we went through a long period when this child would not sleep through the night. we walked through many (many) long days in a sleep-deprived fog, and i remember thinking i'd give anything to be past those days, because surely they couldn't go on forever.

they couldn't, of course, and they didn't. and sitting here right now i'd give almost anything to be back in the midst of them. because so much was still ahead, and so many of my missteps could still be avoided.

the scary thing is, as much as we've learned, and as hard as we try, there are as many (if not more) mistakes still to be made. and whatever difficulties are ahead promise to be more complex with bigger implications.

i'd very much like to spare him my continued foibles, as dealing with his own will trouble him enough. but, short of putting myself in stasis for a few years, i can't do that. and one day, further on, i'll be sitting here thinking, "wow, did i ever screw that up...and the worst part is, i knew better."

it's as inevitable and predictable and maddening as the ticking of a clock in a quiet room.

so, for my son's thirteenth birthday, i offer:

an apology--for the mistakes i've made and the ones i'm going to make
a promise to try to do better
a really cool dive watch
and a bungee jumping experience

it's not enough. but it's all i've got.


Fish and Bicycles said...

A beautiful love song for your son.

My boy turned 13 last October, and I share many of the thoughts and feelings you've described.

You've probably read me quoting the Ben Folds song "Still Fighting It" before, but that line - "And you're so much like me, I'm sorry" - kills me every time. You'd think I'd take pleasure and pride in my son turning out a lot like me, but he's like me warts and all.

So this idea that our sons were perfect once is tricky. I've never met a perfect person. We live in an imperfect world that shapes us all, eventually, into imperfect beings.

spaceneedl said...

thanks, howard.

i just wish i had done better, so he'd be better and the whole world would be better, and the cosmos would smile on us all.

instead of what we have, which is none of the above.

it's possible i'm taking too much responsiblity for some of those big-picture items. but i know i'm responsible for the idiot things i've done parent-wise.

and that troubles me...