What a wonderful parental experience I had this morning. I’ve reached a point that I knew I’d reach, and while there is some satisfaction in having done so, what it portends makes me sad and worrisome. You parents will know where I am with this; you have to, because I wouldn’t have the sadness and worry, the very fear perhaps, if you hadn’t told me that I would get to this point…and the fearful beyond.
Finnegan will be playing in his first band concert on Thursday, and I’ve had to take him down to Gettysburg Middle School on ten or so mornings for rehearsal. The trip takes about 20 minutes–we live out in the boonies–and during that time we catch up on the things we need to catch up on, which is usually just me telling him how to live his life. (Yeah, I know, and some people wonder why anyone would ever want to be a parent. It’s like being a cop to a certain small number of younger people, but you can wear anything you want.)
I drop him off in the elementary school parking lot, and there’s a crossing guard there to make sure the kids make it across the street to the middle school safely, and of course there’s usually other band kids making the same trip as he.
We do our I love yous and have a good days, and I give him a kiss and send him on his way. Then, when he’s about halfway across the street, I yell, “Love you, Finn; have a good day, buddy.” Sometimes he’ll give me a wave, sometimes he’ll look back and smile; the first couple of times he may have even yelled back that he loves me too, but that might just be wishful thinking. Still, there’s always a reaction.
Now, we’re a family that isn’t shy about showing our love and feelings for each other in public, and neither of the boys has ever been sheepish about that. I haven’t deluded myself into thinking that Beck and I are going to be the first parents ever to not have to go through a period when their kids are embarrassed by them; still, I didn’t think it would come so soon.
But this morning, after the good-byes and I love yous, he says, “And, Dad, don’t yell.”
I wasn’t sure what he was talking about at first, so I asked him what he meant by that.
“When I’m walking across the street, you don’t have to yell.”
And it dawned on me; I had embarrassed my ten year old son. I took a touch of pride from that, even more so since I had done it through an exhibit of my love for him. More for me, baby.
Still, I did see that little glimpse of the future; how long would it be before he began to shy away from my hugs and kisses, my public testimonials of love? Too soon, I fear.
Still, that’s not today. And besides, the way I look at it, which is much the same as the rest of you parents have looked–or will look–at it, his mother and I are the reason he’s here and the support system on which his entire existence is based, so if what gives us a little comfort in that role happens to embarrass him, he’ll just have to live with it.
“Love you, Finn; have a good day, buddy,” I yelled, once he was across the street. He looked over his shoulder with an embarrassed smile and that stern look that says I told you not to do that. I threw up a wave and put the car in gear. “Get over it, kid. Go practice your sax.”
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