Growing Up

I’m not usually one for the crazy sappy fatherhood stuff (there are mommyblogs for that) but there was a moment yesterday where we were about to sit down at the table for dinner and my son came up, hooked the leash on the dog’s collar and took her outside for a walk.

And I was suddenly struck with just how tall he looked.  And lanky.  I commented this to my wife.  “Well, he didn’t get tall and lanky from me.”  To which I replied, “Look at my family.  Do you see tall and lanky anywhere?   The adjective usually used to describe my family is stocky.”

“Did you say stumpy?”

No.  I did not say “stumpy.”  Thhhbbbppptttt.

Anyway, I generally hug my son every day in and amongst messing with him constantly.  I only gradually notice how he gets closer and closer to arm level.  It’s a sudden shock, though, to see how tall he is compared with some physical object.  Or to pick him up and notice that suddenly he’s all arms and legs.  No matter how much I thought he was arms and legs a year ago.

It’s strange, because he’s so like me in some ways and so unlike me in other ways.  I knew long before I was my son’s age that I wanted to play the guitar…it just took me until I was 15 to convince my parents, too.  I was reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  My son doesn’t read as much as I did, and while he’s starting to get interested in music (finally, my wife and I were amazed that he didn’t inherit the music gene with his mother’s milk) he doesn’t seem interested in, you know, making music himself.  But he’s much better and more interested in math than I ever was.  And he perceives patterns or makes connections at times when they wouldn’t have occurred even to me.

But I was also heavily involved in my own little world, occasionally trying to pull others into my own adventuresome land.  Like he tries to get my wife and I to go to his “campsite” consisting of his pillows and blankets on our bed, where he can tell me stories about the haunted house full of red and black skeletons.  He’s solitary like I was, but not apparently feeling the social pressures that I did.  With his AS, sometimes I wonder if he feels social pressure at all, in unhealthy or healthy ways.

I know all parents worry about their children, even though I think my wife and I may do so a bit more than normal because of his AS.  We wonder how he’ll fit in, how he’ll adapt, how he’ll take care of himself and interact with others without us nearby to facilitate.  Thanks to his school he’s made leaps and bounds in those areas in the past few years, though, even when we haven’t been able to foresee it in advance.  So I just have faith that, somehow, he’ll grow into his own.  We’re already proud of him.  Although he has his ways in which he’s a handful, he’s in very many ways the best kid I know.

So I sit back and watch my son grow up, trying to pick and choose the times and ways to impart the things to him that I think a father needs to teach a son.  To try to find ways to explain things so he can understand, try to find times when he’s open and listening.  But mostly I’m trying to sit back and not inject a lot of my overblown philosophy or my own less-than-ideal childhood into his life.  I’m trying to let him be his own kid, and hopefully someday grow into his own man.

I like what I see so far.

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