Well my boy, we’ve made it another trip around the sun – you’re fifth now. Wow, 5 years old…where has the time gone? I know, it’s not like you’re graduating from high school or anything, and are heading off to college, but I can’t help but look at you, in this moment, and feel a profound sense of emotion.
I know that’s not a big surprise with your dad; I’m all the emotions, all the time. But recently your mother and I have both found ourselves marveling how much you’ve grown; not just physically, but in every other sense of the word…and clearly how much we’ve grown because of you.
I’ve talked about, on several occasions, the struggles your mother and I went through during the first year or so of your life, but I’ve never really talked about our (you and me) relationship during the last 5 years, and the ways it has evolved and changed.
I truly wish I could say we’ve always been the best of pals, and that every day of the last 5 years were just one awesome Huckleberry Finn inspired adventure after another, but the truth is, much of our time together has been rocky at best…and that’s my fault.
I know you won’t remember much, if any of these early years, and I hope our relationship only grows as the years go on, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to know the truth. Your dad is man who is deeply flawed, but also a man who works every day to become better. Someone you can hopefully look to as an example one day.
When you read all this some day, you might wonder why someone who loves you so much, tried so hard in your earliest years together to keep you at arms length. Well, the truth is my son…I was scared, and some times I still am.
You are my son. Sure, people constantly say how much you look like you mother, and you do, and it doesn’t bother me at all because you got your very best feature; your eyes, from me. They say the eyes are the windows to your soul. It’s right there, in your soul, as well as everything else going on inside you, that my worry and fear lie.
I have always boasted that you will never have the kind of childhood I had, but it’s become clear that you are very much going to be the same child I was, and it frightens me how the world will treat you. You’re scatter-brained; you have a hard time staying focused on what’s in front of you. You aren’t the biggest fan of structured learning, at least not on the level that schools and teachers will appreciate, or show patience for . This makes me fear for you ability to learn. You hesitate at trying new things; you are a creature of routine, and I fear you will miss out on awesome adventures in life because you want to stick with what you know. You’re emotions are all over the place; you cry a lot for the simplest reasons; you get very frustrated at the drop of a hat…and I can already see anxiety lives in you too. It’s hard to not to feel guilty as a parent when you know you passed on that burden to your young child.
Simply put, I was so afraid of what kind of parent I would become; knowing the sickness that runs through my family’s veins, and so focused on what I perceived as you having issues that I pushed you away. I spent far too long worrying, and sadly, said things like, “What’s your problem” far too many times, that I missed opportunities to just enjoy you; to encourage your silliness; to just wrap you up in love, and for that…I am forever sorry.
I promise from this point forward to be better; to see things differently, and to let go of the worry. Because that worry has overshadowed some of your very best features. You are, while annoying a lot of the times, one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Your wit is light years ahead of mine when I was your age. Your smile and laughter can light up any room. You are very kind to others, and just want people to love you like you love them. You make friends wherever you go, and you love to give out hugs just because; the world could use more of that. Your scatter brain; also means you have a phenomenal imagination. I hear you play by yourself, and the stories you create are awesome. You’re smart. Yeah, learning is going to be tough on you, because unfortunately society doesn’t really embrace radical free thinking, but lucky for you, you have parents that do.
Look bro, things are only going to get harder from here. Yes, I still fear how the world will treat you when they hear you talk in the way that only makes sense to you, or that they will make fun of you for being sensitive. And my heart will break the first time, and every time after, you come home crying because some kid made fun of you, or made you feel less than. But I want you to always remember something; I embrace you for who you are, and I will always encourage you to hold on to the things that make you “you”.
But most of all my son, I will always encourage you to stay who you are. And no matter what anyone says, including me…don’t ever change, because I love everything about who you are.