We both have parent issues. We try to not share them with our kids.
For me, not pushing them to be me is simply a matter of not letting them slit their wrists and not pushing them to get straight A's all the time and reading them something other than Douglas Adams. For The Donor, it's a bit more complicated. He was that kid. I have scrapbooks on scrapbooks full to the brim with newspaper clippings and accolades. I have cases of ribbons and pins and trophies in my basement. I have a wall full of plaques and a closet full of uniforms waiting for a child who needs them. For a child who will follow his father's footsteps. And I have a very tired father here, too, one who never got his childhood because he was too busy being pushed to be the fastest, the hardest, the leanest, the best.
And so I've read them other stories (thank you, Dan Brown) and he's let them dip their foot in a pool with an instructor rather than with him, and he's put them in soccer lessons with any other coach, and he's sat back and waited. I've seen him dream. I've seen the hope well up inside of him like a fire and I've seen that flame extinguish time and time again, mostly because he's an athlete and I'm a nerd and nerds don't push their kids to hit balls for a living and athletes don't buy their kids Mensa Mind Challenge books for fun. Our kids will be neither of us, it seems. At least not by our doing.
He's actually been trying his hand at their sports of choice a little lately, and let me tell you that a 37 year old man on a Ripstick is damn near the funniest thing you've ever seen in your entire life. Especially when he does a double-backwards-aerial-somersault and lands flat on his ass. That man was never a cat, in any life.
Our boys are both athletic in their own rights. 1of3 was born with Perfect. Fucking. Balance. The kid walked at 8 months and rode a 2 wheel bike, without training wheels, at 2. Not kidding. 2of3 has an arm, oh my god does he ever. He's buoyant enough to swim well, but not focused enough. 1of3 is like a brick in the water, just like his momma. They both love to skateboard and ride BMX bikes and I think one of them may be eyeballing motocross, which should make their godfather about explode with pride, but none of that does their father a whole lot of good.
See, I think dads really crave that thing they can share with their kids, maybe more so than moms do. My bond with them is easy; I can close my eyes and still feel them stir inside of me, I can feel the measure of their brand new bodies wrapped around mine, suckling themselves to sleep, if I just concentrate enough. But it's not so easy for their dad. He didn't carry them and he didn't nurse them and now that they are growing away from us, now that we're struggling to hold on to the last little bits of them before we are gone and they are complete, I see how he yearns for something of them them, something uniquely theirs, something he can share with them and give to them and be with them.
And then this happened:
They've always played golf with him. They've always had clubs and they've always gone to the range with him and they've always watched the Master's in his lap, but they've never truly learned to play his game before. And it just turns out that my little 2of3 has found his authentic swing. He is a golfer.
The Donor was there with them for the first half of their lessons, and I met him at the course for the second half. He kept saying to me, "Honey, just look at him. Watch this..." and I saw the flame begin to spark in his eyes. I watched my 2of3 focus, I watched him swing away and I knew that he'd found something that spoke to him. This is kind of a rare thing in his world. Before his dad left us to head off to work, he leaned into me and whispered in my ear with stifled excitement, "He's our golfer."After The Donor left, I was busy chasing 3of3 on the other side of the fence, trying to watch my sons and failing miserably. I mean, really, can you blame me?
And then I heard it. I turned and looked through the fence and I saw his teacher, all of his fellow golfers, his brother even, and they were all silent and still. The sound was still resonating through us, and for a moment we were all speechless, helpless against it.
I don't know if you follow golf, if you play or watch or understand it at all, but there's a point in everyone's golf game when you find it. Yourself. Your core. There's a point in your game when you let yourself go and trust your own intuition and you swing that club and it hits the ball exactly perfectly and you feel it like lightening running through you. You feel your center. The sound the ball makes, the sound the shaft of your club makes, it's not just impact...it's perfect balance. It is a sound that anyone who is near you when it happens feels, too. The vibration, the wave, the ping, it comes from inside of you and for one perfect second, time stands still as the ball soars out from you.
If you think I'm overthinking things slightly, you've never hit a ball like that. Try it.
We all stood and watched my son's ball tear though the air. It was like watching Monet paint, or Beethoven compose, but mostly it was like watching my husband swing his clubs. And my son, he felt it. He turned to me with his mouth wide open in awe of himself. His instructor looked at me, looked at him and just said, "Wow." And all I could do was smile. My son, he has it. He has a piece of his father, a piece unique to them that none of the rest of us truly have just yet. It's the most beautiful thing in the world, seeing the man you love in the child you love.
The next day, the two of them sat outside together, just the two of them, and they talked as they scrubbed their clubs. They came upstairs a whole lot later and together they barbecued for our whole family. My son forgot his DS for the day, my husband forgot his Sunday afternoon Sports Channel shows, and they remembered each other instead. Later that night, 2of3 came up to me and said, "Mom, me and Dad cleaned our clubs together all day today, just us!" Even later that night, as The Donor and I sat on the porch in the dark of night, he looked at me and said, "I can't tell you how much I've wanted something of ours, something to share with them."
And what I didn't say is that I couldn't tell him how much more it makes me love him to see that now he has it.
Oh, and yeah. FlickR has the rest of the day's pictures, if you're into that sort of thing.