Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Son

One particularly bad summer afternoon, many years ago, when Oliver was six, we had to leave the house as that afternoon it had become unsafe. With his brother and sister crying in their car seats, Oliver held my hand and looked up at me and said "I love you Dad."

My oldest boy never stops amazing me. In one moment he can be understanding, sympathetic, reasonable, and mature...the next he can be selfish, self absorbed, and other words he is much like the rest of us. Yesterday, however, I saw just how fast he is growing up.

Yesterday morning I had an appointment. Oliver overheard me make the arrangements for the meeting the previous evening. As I left my appointment I noticed I had a text message on my phone from read "how did it go with ****? Now Oliver goes to a parochial school...they don't fool around with cell phones and texting there...if the kid gets caught using them during school hours the phone gets taken away and they have a three year sentence of detention. The kid ran a considerable risk to find out how I made out.

The first thing he asked me when he got into the car that afternoon was how things went. We chatted briefly and then discussed his upcoming baseball practice later that evening. His brother and I threw the ball around before I brought them to their mother's. In playing with them it was plain that my younger boy was still very much a little boy and my oldest was growing away from him. Both boys are better athletes than I ever was, with Aidan being a natural and Oliver arriving at his success through hard work.

I arrived late but just in time to watch Oliver take batting practice. As impressive his hitting display was, with his hitting line drive after line drive, I marveled at how Oliver carried himself. As he stood in the outfield catching fly balls a coach stood next to him. Listening to them chat, I was proud of how Oliver listened and commented on his coach's opinions and how he shared his views. Theirs was an adult conversation. The practice ended perfectly with Oliver making a great play at shortstop. The coach hit a ground ball just to the left of the pitching rubber...with one seamless move, Oliver scooped up the ball, stepped on the second base bag and threw the ball to first base. For those of you who do not know baseball, this is a difficult play, but if done well it is a thing of athletic grace.

Later that evening Oliver and I sat on the couch and talked about our respective days. As we chatted I realized that Oliver knew and understood that he and his brother and sister were the most important people in my life. But more telling, when I talked about my day, I saw that Oliver understood that I had a life independent of his, that I had my own goals and aspirations beyond that of my role as his father. That he had accepted long ago that it was alright for me to have people in my life that were important to me and that they did not take away from what I felt for him and his brother and sister. He knew that I possess enough love and energy that he did not need to jealously guard his share.

Oliver is no longer a little boy and is well on his way to becoming a young man. He will exceed my modest athletic accomplishments and he is well on his way toward learning lessons about selflessness and love and care and responsibility that took me well into my thirties to learn. I am very proud of my son.

Safe in my living room, with his brother and sister sleeping in their beds, as he went to bed he put his hand on my knee and said to me "I love you Dad."


  1. I just landed here via the Daily Blonde and read through all your posts, and I wanted to tell you that I think you're a great dad. I'm sure people tell you that all the time, but I wanted to add my semi-anonymous opinion. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great story. Children are amazing...

    And that "appointment"

  3. Thanks for the kind words...if you were here right now hearing me yell at my kids like a fish monger your opinion might change...:)

  4. i can't wait for those moments with my son...and yes im with blondie on wtf about the appointment

  5. Another great post Tom!! I love hearing about your children and you ARE a great dad! Hope to meet you ( and Cheryl) someday as I dont live to far away from you both!! A little bloggy lunch maybe!!