Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Those few seconds when you just stare at your child

I was looking at my son Jared the other day. He didn't know I was looking at him, which is good because it would have been a bit weird and creepy, with me just staring at him and all.

But you parents know what I'm talking about, right? Sometimes you just look at your child. You do it when they're infants and they're sleeping. And you do it when they're older, too. You can't help it.

When I was looking at Jared, I was thinking a lot of different things. I thought about how grown up he is. I thought about how physically big he is. I thought what a shame it was that my dad never got the chance to see him play soccer or kick a football. (Trust me, Bob Tennant would have LOVED watching his grandkids play high school sports. He would have been a permanent fixture at Wickliffe High School. Heck, he came to most of my football PRACTICES. The man was a true fan.)

Sometimes you look at your kids and you think what a genuine miracle they are. I imagine this is especially true for the mothers who actually birth them because, you know, you grew a kid inside of you. In less than a year, that child formed inside of you and burst into the world. And now, well, here they are. Amazing.

You also look at your kids and worry a little. Even if there's not really anything specific to worry about, you worry anyway because that's what you do. Right there in the parent job description it says, "Must be willing to worry about child even when you can't quite pinpoint exactly what you're worrying about."

I guess we worry about whether we've done our jobs right in raising them. We worry about how they're doing in school and in life. We worry about whether we've taught them the things they need to know.

All of this flickered through my mind when I looked over at Jared as we were driving to a hockey game together. And in that moment I felt a love so intense for him it was a little jarring.

You always love your kids, of course. But there are moments when you remember how much you love them, and it hits you hard. For most of us, we love because we ourselves were loved. We are bound to pass that love along as part of a relationship that is simultaneously the most rewarding and most difficult thing we do in this life.

And all the while, The Boy was looking down at his phone, no doubt absorbed in checking the performance of his fantasy football team or reading up on how the Browns  his favorite football team and mine  have managed to screw up in some new and creative way.

He was oblivious, but that's OK. It's not his time yet. One day he'll feel the same love for his own child, and only then will he realize that his own parents felt the same way about him. You can't fully understand it until you're ready to give it to someone else. That's the nature of it. And like I said, that's OK.

I stared at him a few more seconds, and then the light that had us stopped in Downtown Cleveland turned green. So I turned my attention back to the road. But I still loved him.

I'll always love him.

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