Noah just went to bed after a day full of presents, and cake, and family, and exciting celebration for his…
Gosh, I almost can’t say it…
His 9th birthday.
Do you remember how little he was when I first started this blog? No? Let me refresh your memory:
Not no mo’.
Now he’s nine.
That’s the big halfway point. Halfway to 18. Halfway to adulthood. I’m halfway done raising my child. Halfway to ye old empty nester.
I’m so happy right now. I’m so sad right now. I didn’t expect to be anything today, but I am all of it. He’s in bed, thrilled as can be that he just hit such a milestone. And why shouldn’t he be thrilled? I remember not being able to grow up fast enough when I was his age.
But now I want time to chill the hell out.
I want it to slow down to that normal grueling pace it once ran for me. I want it to stop putting wrinkles around my eyes, hairs on my earlobes, and pain in my joints. But most of all, I want it to stop stripping these precious 18 years I have to raise my son away so damn quickly.
Nine years old.
It’s hump day. The day when everything else is counting down to when he’s 18. That’s so surreal.
Have I done everything I should have done that first crucial half of his life?
Have I taught him everything I should have taught him?
Have I been there every time I should have been there?
Have I given him the right tools to get through the second half of this childhood; the half that is by far the most awkward, ridiculous, and mentally reconstructing years of almost any person’s life?
He’s still alive. And well. I’ve at least done the basics right. Thick or thin I’ve kept a roof over his head and food on his plate.
He’s happy. Not all nine-year-olds are happy. I’ve done that right. Right?
What about the rest?
Did my first nine years as a Daddy, as his Daddy, grant him the foundation for an amazing, profound, fulfilling, and happy life to come?
Was I too much of anything? Kind? Unkind? Manipulative? Spoiling? Harsh? Easy-going? Expecting? Demanding? Soft? Hard?
Did I teach him work ethic, and kindness, and empathy, and strength? Did I keep his self-esteem canteen full enough? Did I overfill it? Did I show him integrity? Charm? Inclusion? Sincerity?
Nine years old.
Nine years in.
Nine years down. Nine years to go.
It’s so surreal. Did I do all those things? Was I all those things? Did I give and expect all those things?
Maybe that’s why today is such an emotional day. It’s the day I intrinsically feel one very indisputable fact.
I am about to get that final grade on my parenting report card. I am about to see whether I was the father I needed to be. For the next nine years I get to see my first nine years turn my boy into a man. I get to see everything I did wrong. And everything I did right.
And that’s just a little bit scary to me.
I think I did it right. I think I got it right.
But what if I… I mean, is it possible that I… didn’t?
Nine years old. It doesn’t seem possible.
Today my boy politely chastised another for not speaking kindly of someone who wasn’t there. He’s growing up. He’s showing me that I did something right.
He also did this when his birthday pancakes came out. He’s not growing up too much. He’s showing me I did something right.
Nine years old. Halfway there. I guess it’s time to buckle up and strap myself in for the rest of ’em.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing