Monday, October 10, 2011

How does it feel?

Some people have no sympathy. If they did they wouldn’t have to ask. I don’t know, maybe most of them are just trying to start a conversation with me and think they have a good question. I don’t think most askers really want to know and some know already. If I could put an answer into words I would. I don’t think I’m that good of a writer and that’s not the goal of this blog entry. Or maybe it is. But the truth is I don’t know the answer to the question: “How does it feel to be that father of an 18 year old?”

18 years ago today my first child was born. It took weeks to even fully grasp how it felt to be a father. I could have listed a lot of feeling words and other adjectives. Tired would have been one of the key words, definitely. And as our little family walked through Maui Mall I felt different from the crowing pride that I felt walking though with a pregnant wife. It went from “See what I can do?” to “Oh dear Lord what have I done?”

By the time Naomi was born Harrison and I would take walks together. In Budapest we would spend many afternoons together either just outside our block of flats at a playground or sometimes we would ride public transport to the local railway station and watch the trains arrive and depart. From this camaraderie came a new feeling. I had a joyous sense of being complete. Now the little boy that walked hand in hand with me is an adult. And people ask me how it feels.

I can’t say I know exactly. We’re not giving Harrison the boot after lunch today. It’s not like we’re losing him. Not yet at least. The Earth just traveled around its sun 18 times. That’s all right? Well Harrison did get a letter from the United States Selective Service last week. He is legally an adult. I can tell you that it feels a little wrong. Because even though he’s legally an adult, he’s my little boy.

And he’s not just my little boy. I tried to thank people at the birthday party on Saturday. I didn’t get too many chances. And not everyone reads this whom I wish I could thank. It hasn’t been a perfectly smooth 18 years. There was a long time marred by moving, growing pains and government schools. He had younger sister sick with cancer and both parents taking care of her sometimes. And though it all Harrison was the first born. That’s the trailblazer that parents learn on. And today I can look back and breathe a sigh of relief. We made it. But we never could have done it without help. There are teachers, pastors, friends and relatives that didn’t give up on Harrison. To all of you, thank you for helping Harrison grow to be the man of God that he is today.

So how does it feel to be the father of an 18 year old? It’s all mixed up. Afraid, melancholy and shocked, yes. But thankful to everyone and to God. Just a little bit proud of myself, please forgive me. And here will be my answer when and if anyone asks me. I’m very proud of my son.

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