February 15, 2008
Originally published December 27, 2003
Quinton will be ten years old tomorrow.
If you're not a parent, you may not understand what I'm about to say. But if you ARE a parent, I'll bet that you see my point clearly. I have a difficult time remembering when he wasn't part of my life. Ten years is only 1/5th of my lifetime, but I don't remember what life was like before he came along. He has been such a joy and such a pain in the ass to me that I can't recall what life was like without him.
That's the blink of an eye in cosmic terms, but I've watched that boy grow from shitting in his diapers to calling me an "ugly, old geezer" as he runs down the hallway laughing. I've watched him learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run, then to ride a bicycle.
I've watched him play soccer, baseball, football and basketball. I've watched him wrestle in the state finals. I've watched him eat everything I have in the got-dam refrigerator, and I've watched him sleep at night. Bejus. He hits double-figures tomorrow.
Where does the time go? I figure that I have about two more years before he becomes a rebellious teenager and decides that I am full of shit and as dumb as they come. All teenaged boys go through that stage, and I expect it from my son. I did it to my father. I hope that I live long enough to make my boy believe that I got smart again, all of a sudden.
Quinton is not far away from that moment of defiance that every young man must display for his father. I expect it, and in some ways I look forward to it. That will be the day that Quinton decides to be his own man.
I wish that we had some kind of primitive rite of passage, where the village elders took a boy into a tent, poured oil on his head, waved wood-smoke in his face, chanted some mumbo-jumbo and then gave him an experienced woman to sleep with that night. He could emerge from the tent the next morning as a MAN, and everybody in the village would accept that fact.
We don't do such things in western civilization. I am not convinced that we have the right idea.
My boy will be ten years old tomorrow. How do I make him a man?
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