It's the thing about being a father that I didn't fully appreciate until the last couple of years: hearing your funny bits come tumbling out of your progeny's mouth. Chief among these is the way he answers the phone. "Yello?" He has absorbed my prior absorption of the affected way in which Herb Tarlek, Sales Manager for WKRP in Cincinnati, would address callers when they reached him at his desk. And now, at age sixteen, we have a number of friends and family who make the mistake of believing that they have reached the elder when they have in fact reached the younger.
Proud? Sure. Why not? It's the part about growing up that I really don't mind: his. My wife might not agree, but I've got a great deal of fondness for the kid as he has grown. The fact that I can talk with him about music, and movies and even politics is a gift. Even those moments when our thought patterns don't completely mesh are a giddy good time. He knows a bunch of things that I don't. Early in his existence, the things that I learned from my son were primarily things I found out about myself as I learned to care for another proto-human. These days he's bringing home plenty of new and varied information that I wouldn't have imagined could come from someone who is just a sliver of my age. Most of these factoids concern motor vehicles, and that's okay. There is a significant gap in my knowledge and understanding of cars and trucks and things that go. With all of this discussion of internal combustion engines and the like, you might guess that part of today's celebration would involve the procurement of that sixteen-year-old's rite of passage, the driver's license. You would have guessed wrong. My son has yet to acquire his learner's permit. The smart money, a year or so ago, would have had him and his parents lined up outside the DMV, waiting for the chance to take that driving test.
That's not how this one worked out. As it turns out, there are myriad opportunities and challenges to fill the days of our boy. When asked, he'll give some sort of vague answer, but the underlying truth is well known to me. He isn't ready yet. He knows it and has purposely put it off for the time being. Which is fine and right. He's doing what I have done myself all my life. When it comes time to jump, you won't need to push me. I'll jump on my own because I'm ready. That's the way my son is, too. I'm proud as I can be, even though he's stealing my best bits. Happy Birthday, kiddo.