Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What They Draw From You

Repost... by request.

In a few weeks, my son will be entering his second decade on this planet. This has caused me pause and made me reflect on the boy who is fast changing into something larger and greater. All parents desire for their children to exceed... to move beyond the parent and into a life all their own. And yet all parents rue the passage... even if we don't admit it. His true passage is still years away. But I can see the potential of the man I helped to make. The genetics are a mix... my ears and build... her hair and coloring... but his eyes... they are all his own. That is a good description of children, perhaps. The chaos of mixing genetic materials which follow a form not to stray too far away from the original... but far enough to make the world interesting.

When he lay on the ER table a month back, being stitched up from taking a hockey stick between the eyes in a backyard game, he didn't cry. He joked with the doctor... deflecting fear and pain with humor. I sat beside him, holding his hand. The doctor asked where he had managed to get such a sense of humor... he didn't answer verbally, but his small finger rose so that only I could see it and he pointed at me. And he was right of course. In more ways than one. Humor is a weapon that we both employ with surgical skill from time to time. And we take pleasure in making each other laugh to the point of choking at the dinner table... and yet in his eyes... I see a melancholy. A melancholy that I recognize from my own reflection that passes from time to time. And so he deflects already the questions of sadness, hiding them behind a veil of laughter. There is nothing really to be sad about... but that is just the way that he is wired.

He is smarter than me. Certainly he hasn't walked the miles I have and has not the life experience that I have. But his IQ is above mine by a significant margin, and I'm not really a slouch. I'm fascinated by this. I challenge him constantly and am nearly always amazed by his capacity to absorb and adapt and change. We started playing chess last week. He knows the game and apparently has become the class chess champ. But he needed more of a challenge so he asked me to play. We had played in years past and he frustrated easily because he could not beat me. So he quit. Also a trait from yours truly. But this time it was different. He wanted to learn and have me explain what I was doing and why so he could beat his friends more easily. We dissected the game and he sucked it all in. And we played again, he, armed with new weapons, and me trying to set up chances and opportunities for him to see if he would catch them. He did. All of them. And I found myself losing. It took me years to beat my own father. It was a rite a passage I wasn't about to let go casually. So I played harder and eventually trapped him. But he was smiling this time because he knew that he had done well.

They are all so different. So unique in their own ways. You can group him if you like. Call him the middle child. Call him a result of nature. Or of nurture. Or diagnose the fact that he is the only boy with two sisters... You can see his tendencies and point them back to their origins. His dislike of crowds... or his taste for mustard and pickles... his reflexes... his smile.... his calculating eyes... his hyperactive leg... his fascination with building... his dislike of reading fiction... his yen for a life as a hero... his catlike need to rub his face against you...

But they are his. Not mine. Not hers. Not anyone but his. He is a snowflake. And so are we all.

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