Nineteen years ago, I was still getting used to the "summer weather pattern" of the Bay Area. Morning fog giving way to bright sunshine in the afternoon was still kind of a mystery to me back then. The rhythms of my life were about to take an even greater shake than the periodic tremors that shook my newly adopted home: my son was born.
Back then, I was still finding my way. I had a new job, elementary school teacher, and a new house. I was starting fresh, but I had no idea what having this little creature in my life would mean. A lifetime later, I have a career as a school teacher and an ever-expanding list of fix-it jobs to do on our little corner of heaven.
And I have a son.
A lot has been made, over the years, of the way he managed to cheat my wife out of that first Mother's Day. I have sometimes wished that I could negotiate some ripple in time to correct that miscue. In hindsight, of course, this little boy was the gift for both of his parents, holidays notwithstanding. It was his vision of the world that shaped the next couple of decades. We learned about cars and trucks and things that go. We learned about trains and power units and all the rolling stock that found its way into our living room. We learned about Calvin Ball and the transmogrifier. We built a lot of Legos and put them away again. For a while. I put away my Sega Genesis when I became a father, and later we welcomed a Wii and then an Xbox into our world to learn to drive and play electric guitar. Sort of.
We learned all kinds of things through the eyes of our child. Mostly, we learned to be parents. Sometimes we got it exactly right, and we wasted no time patting ourselves on the back. Sometimes we missed wide right, and we tried to imagine how we could have missed something so obvious. We were learning as we went, and just about the time we figured out how to distinguish one Teletubbie from another, that chapter was over. Sometimes the curve seemed insurmountable. The things we had to understand to keep up with our kid was just too much, and that's about the time he started to explain it to us.
He never had to explain to us how special he is to us. There are no words for that. He is our son, and we revolve around him, even if our orbit is a little more distant now than it used to be. He makes his own food and finds his own way, but he doesn't forget to call and ask us if he gets lost or needs to know how many minutes to leave something in the oven. And we call him when we have an IT problem. Or we want to hear about his day.
He is our son, and all those years ago he burned through the fog to brighten our day. Happy birthday, my son.