I never really tasted desperation in my life until the possibility of losing my son, either by my own accidental hands or by the inevitable actions of a wife I had pushed too far. I’d certainly fallen before. Life had given me its fair share of curveballs, most of which I played a direct hand in throwing at myself. However, I was always rather pleasantly surprised at the amount of pillows friends and family had stacked directly under my ass to cushion my fall. When finally those cushions were, one by one, removed is when I was truly allowed to fall. That immense fear that comes when everything that once seemed to be working, suddenly no longer is. The house of cards falls, the tricks stop getting falled for and all that is that last great, beautiful unknown: what am I gonna do now?
I’m grateful to God that the answer that I stumbled onto was simply “You’re not gonna do this alone.” I really never took a whole lot of responsibility before. Life was just sort of a series of things that happened. It wasn’t until becoming responsible for the life of another human being that focus really started to ramp up. Don’t get me wrong, the first year of Jack’s life I was a complete mess in a lot of aspects. But, I wanted to be different. I knew that I wanted to change for this little guy, I just didn’t really want to for myself yet. That would take a little longer, but not a lot longer. During this first year of his life, I did a lot of over compensating. Jack was my job. However, I could pad every right angle. I could follow him around encircled like a hula-hoop. I could be “that parent” following their kid onto the playground equipment to make sure they’re SAFE. I could do all of this, but no matter what, whether I like it or not, sooner or later Jack was going to fall and I wasn’t going to be there. Then one day he did. Guess what happened? He got back up and kept playing. He’s fallen a lot since then. Some have been bad. Some have been bloody. Most have not. But he gets back up.
Despite what I like to believe about my level of omnipotence, I have no idea what the future holds. All I really know is that I can provide my experience to my son, but he is going to make the decisions that he is going to and I am powerless over those decisions. I cannot control the actions of my son. Now, that experience I hope to transmit will take many different shapes throughtout my sons life and my own. It will be constantly adapting and evolving. It may be as seemingly benign as “Jack, if you throw the truck in the air, it will hit you in the head” or as potentially life-altering as “If you are going to drink, you are not going to drive home.”
So, far, Jack seems to not learn until the truck has hit him in the head. He’s three years old though, and now he doesn’t throw the truck in the air. Well, not as much. Besides, I’m damn near thirty six and it still takes a toy truck to hit me in the head now and then before I go “Perhaps I shouldn’t do that anymore.” So, every now and then, Jack skins his knees. He bloodies his nose. He falls. So do I.