“Daddy? I love you.”
As many know, I can become emotional at the drop of a hat. Movies, novels, songs, TV commercials, makes no matter. My heart is on my sleeve at all times. So, last night, when my son said that to me, it took quite a bit of self control to not burst out in a sob in front of him.
See, yesterday was me boy-o’s tenth birthday. The Jack-Attack (one half of the future super-group “Sammy Slamma Jamma and the Jack Attack”) is TEN! A DECADE!
I remember how frustrated Sarah’s doctor was when he saw us walk into this offices the morning before Jack was born. “Why are you here?!? (you could actually SEE the question marks and exclamation points when he made that declaration. – ed.) That baby should have been here TWO DAYS AGO!!!” Sonogram, exam, cbc, chem-7 and a thoracotomy tray later (may be exaggerating on that last), the doctor admits Sarah to the hospital, because he’s on duty that night. Jack is “sunny-side up”, so, many, many, many, many hours later Jack joins us via c-section.
I was, and still am when I recall the moment, speechless. I was without the ability to make a sound. Utterly, completely gobsmacked. It is one thing to know that one one side of a surgical curtain many parts of your beloved are being poked, prodded and sutured by an extraordinarily well trained surgeon, it’s another altogether to be presented with your son. My son. MY SON!!! And no, thank you, I do not want to cut the cord. My degree is in Political Science (earned in a large part thanks to Shannon Matthew Kasley, Esq. and Kevin Ahearn, who both pulled my ass through senior year), not medicine. You’re the doc, you do it!
At which point we come back to where I lost the power of speech. Sarah is looking up at me, asking after himself, “Is he OK?” I forgot I was wearing a surgical mask, so when I saw Sarah’s eyes go wide at my tears and lack of verbalization, I started nodding my head vigorously, and I’m pretty sure I sorta squeaked, “Yah.” She couldn’t really see me, what with the epidural and other anesthesia, so she misunderstood my tears at first. Tears of joy (naturally), relief (also naturally), joy again, and because when I cry either out of joy or sadness, my larynx becomes useless. It took more than a few minutes before I could form complete sentences and truly reassure Sarah that Jack was perfect, healthy, and royally pissed at being so rudely disturbed.
As parents, we’ve seen amazing feats accomplished by Jack, despite his paternity working against him. I’ve loved watching him grow, become and remain curious, play soccer, make and keep friends, suffer the slings and arrows of grade school. I’ve loved helping him figure out how to ride his bike, make sense of Lego instructions (a precursor to IKEA instructions?), prevent his younger brother from driving him completely mad. And I am humbled by his being as generous, kind and friendly as I would like to be. Some day. When I grow up. I was sad that he had to stay home yesterday from school with an upset tummy and a 101 degree fever. It broke my heart that he had to learn the lesson and feeling of anticlimax so soon, knowing it was his birthday and excited to be 10 YEARS OLD! and knowing at the same time he was going to miss being in his regular classes with his friends and celebrating in the way boys do in school, with joking and shoving. Knowing that his grandmothers and grandfather were stopping by later in the day, and that even though we would sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out the candles he wouldn’t really be able the eat any cake.
But then he whispered, “Daddy? I love you,” when I went upstairs last night to tuck him in, and I figured that once again, Jack will be just fine, no matter what gets thrown his way. Happy birthday, Jack. Many happy returns of the day!