When my first son, Henry, was born, I cried tears I didn’t expect. My own emotions had snuck up and sprung a surprise I wasn’t entirely prepared for.
I hadn’t cried since my wedding day, when I had looked down the aisle and saw my bride walking towards me, loveliness incarnate. I nearly lost it altogether when I was working my ways through my vows. I didn’t think anything could top that moment.
Then I heard Henry’s voice for the first time. And I cried again, because it was beautiful. I’ve certainly heard many babies cry over the years, only some of which were my fault, but I’d never heard my son announce himself to the world before.
And then I got to hold him first, all red and wrinkled and covered in goo, screaming his heart out at his mother’s unlawful eviction. I hadn’t thought to bring a tissue, and I had no free hands, so I had to sniffle my way through those first few minutes of his life, just me and him and Momma and my dripping nose. I still couldn’t believe he was mine. MY son. At last, free labor.
I’m struggling with the idea that Henry is already three-years-old. Three years doesn’t seem that much in adult years, but in child-years, he’s getting ready for college, probably. I recently asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he responded with, “A potato chip! And then a ghost!” He’s ambitious, at least, and I love that.
I’ve also loved watching his personality change and develop over the last few years, even if age 2 to age 3 has been the hardest stage so far (and that’s counting the time we gave birth to him...well, I guess my wife did the actual laboring, but I was there, too, reading DUNE by Frank Herbert and irritably asking my wife to keep the noise down, I was trying to read here). When he turned two, his willfulness came out for the first time to assert itself, and boy, was I NOT prepared for that. The tears, the breakdowns, the emotional instability, the temper tantrums; and that was just me before breakfast.
And yet, despite these more challenging elements of the past year, Henry had the good sense to counterbalance the things most likely to result in my institutionalization with a personality that could be just as silly as my own (although I still think loudly and publicly blaming Holden’s nuclear farts on a mortified my wife is the greatest way a husband can show love to a wife, so my silliness yet reigns supreme). For example, when I came out of the bathroom the other day, he asked me, “Did you make all that pee in the potty? Mommy will be so proud of you!” I assured him that she would not be as proud as he thought. And I was right.
I’ve loved watching his mind develop so quickly this past year (and far more quickly and with greater comprehension than the children of anyone reading this, I can assure you). Not only does he know his letters, colors, and numbers, he also has a strong grasp on the complex political and military situation that led to the formation of the Galactic Empire under Emperor Palpatine. (I’ve never been able to find anyone else quite as interested in that topic as me, so I had to create someone from scratch instead.)
But with that development comes his decision to test me in the harshest way possible: calling me “Dad” instead of “Daddy.” I objected tearfully to this new world order, but to no avail.
I suppose I have a feeling of melancholy more than anything else today. I love watching him grow up, but why does he insist on doing it so quickly? I’d prefer he age like his Momma: taking credit for just one year out of every three.
Yet, despite my misgivings, there’s little I can do to change things, I guess. So I guess I’ll just leave it with this:
Henry, my boy, I love you very much. I’m prouder of you than you’ll ever know. You’re kind, smart, thoughtful, energetic, creative, hilarious, and give the best growl hugs your dad could ever hope for.