Parents love their children. No real news flash there. Many do because of the inseparable bond, others because they feel obligated to do so. Some are proud, some can't wait until they turn 18 so they can boot them out of the house.
I just love my son.
I was a reluctant father-to-be, as Nick, my only child, was not a ‘planned’ event; I got my girlfriend pregnant in 1993. There was a lot of fear on my part over becoming a father, as I imagined my life forever changing. Well, it did. For the better.
When Nick was born, the bond crystallized the moment I saw that schlock of brown hair as he was placed in my arms, at about two minutes old. Suddenly, all the things fathers told me permanently embedded. I was now a father, and I will protect this little entity with my life. It was an immediate, chemical reaction.
I missed the first few years of his life, as I relocated to Ohio. In early 2001 I returned to Florida, when Nick was 6 years old, and re-entered it. And that began my foray into real fatherhood. I learned to like Spongebob Squarepants, Ed Edd and Eddie, and getting slimed. I learned to be interested in whatever interested him, and adapted when those interests changed. In other words, Squidward was pretty cool when he was ten, not so much now. I used him to pick up girls at the mall because he was so damn adorable. I have a box of about 100 Happy Meal toys collected through the years from our dinners...and I am keeping every one of them. We would sit on the beach and talk. One night we were inundated by hundreds of hatching sea turtles during one of our beach talks.
I tried to teach him golf. He didn’t want to learn it. I took him to football and baseball games, but he would rather sit at home and draw. And draw. And draw. It was this proclivity that both his mom and I picked up on and realized that we may have a mini Michelangelo on our hands, so we enrolled him into summer art schools. Gifts from relatives were of the creative variety – sketchbooks, crayons, magic markers and the like. And Nick kept drawing.
When it was time for Middle School, Nick got accepted into a magnet arts school. He is now in a magnet high school, the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. He is in the eleventh grade now, and his work is absolutely amazing. Scholarships await.
I have had friends of mine ask if I am disappointed that Nick doesn’t play golf. Not at all. Not even for a moment. He is a talented kid, and I just want him to go with wherever that talent takes him. Like any parent, I just want him to be happy.
Nick is quiet, introspective, highly intelligent, and bit of a wiseass. He is respectful and courteous, but there is mischief in those eyes. In other words, he is just like me. He doesn’t call me Dad – he calls me Padre. He loves classic rock and boasts every Beatles song in his ipod. We don’t so much talk these days as much as we telepathically communicate – we know what each is thinking. I could not be prouder of him if I tried.
I remember being in a time management seminar at work when Nick was maybe three years old. The facilitator asked who had a small child. I raised my hand. She said to me, ‘Jerry, there is a high wire connecting two skyscrapers, 100 stories high. I’ll give you $100 to walk across it. Will you do it?’ Of course, I said no. She said ‘What about a thousand dollars?’ Nope. ‘One MILLION dollars?’ hmmmm…nope. ‘Okay. Your son just got loose and he’s going across the wire. Now what do you do?’
My immediate answer, without hesitation - ‘I go and get him.’
And that’s what being a parent is all about.