Twenty-four years ago today my son was born. He is the second and youngest, with his sister being three years his senior. When he was born, I had three years of experience being a father, and didn’t make as many mistakes with him as I did with his sister as far as changing diapers and other baby related things.
On the day he was born, the city where we lived was hit with one of the worse ice storms that I could remember. It took over an hour to get to the hospital, normally a twenty-minute trip, and I was white knuckled the entire drive. Between cussing under my breath at the stupid drivers who were sliding all over the road, and my ex-wife making “labor” sounds I was a total wreck by the time we got to the hospital.
After we arrived at the hospital we got checked and settled into a “LDR” room, which stands for Labor, Delivery, Recover. The room was nice, having a couch, chair, TV and a bed that would act as the staging area for everything. However, like his sister, he decided that he was going to park himself for hours before coming out.
The nurse told us to walk around and climb the stairs to help speed the labor. So we walked and climbed for several hours, but he stubbornly refused to budge. Between the walking, climbing and contractions mom finally got worn out (thank God, because I was worn out from just the walking and climbing) and just wanted to rest in the bed. She got settled in, and we started to watch TV.
Since it was December, most of the shows were “Christmas Specials” and we were treated to the ALF Christmas special. For those who are either too young to remember ALF, or, as my ex has, blocked the show from their memory, ALF was accidentally dropped off at a hospital to be given away as a toy. During the course of the show he ends up stuck on an elevator with a woman lying on a gurney and she is in labor. ALF ends up delivering baby Tiffany despite his protests and misgivings. The show was typical of the late ’80’s and while some of the humor is dated, had a sweet and endearing message.
After the show ended, mom was not at all amused by the scene with the ALF playing doctor and delivering the child. The only comment I could come up with was that if any short, furry doctors came in, I would toss them out the window. Somehow that did not reassure her.
My son was born, healthy and with one of the biggest heads I or the doctors had seen in a long time. He was more head than body, and for years looked as if he would topple over from the weight of his head. But, thankfully, the rest of his body finally caught up with his brain box, and now he is around six feet four inches tall.
Along the way he has been a source of joy, frustration and at times aggravation. When he was five I bought him a BB gun rifle for Christmas (don’t ask) and the following summer he nearly shot out his eye with it. One time at school he passed out and fell backwards, hitting his head on a door handle, splitting open his scalp. It took a half-dozen or so stitches to close up the gash, and there was a concern about why he passed out. Multiple doctor’s visits and tests after his fainting spell showed no medical problem, and it was chalked up to being an isolated incident. It wasn’t until ten years or so later that he finally told me what actually had happened. He was having a contest with a friend at school to see who could hold their breath the longest. He won.
One year, while in elementary school, one of his teachers decided to have an end of school party at her house, and all of the class was at the teacher’s house. After eating, the kids all went out to the backyard to play, and my son went running down the hall and out the back sliding glass door to join his classmates. The only problem was that the door was closed. That didn’t stop him however, and he smashed through the plate-glass at full speed. I think it took nearly thirty stitches and an operation to remove a piece of glass that embedded itself deep into his wrist. He was fortunate to have not been hurt worse, and one would have thought that this would have been a lesson to him about being careful. It wasn’t.
I have a tree in the back yard that is old, thick and tall, with huge branches that jut out in varied directions. When my children were young, they wanted a swing out back, and I, being the dutiful father, went out and made them a swing that hung from the tree. Originally with was a thick piece of rope tied to one of the branches, and attached to a board at the bottom. I had fed the rope through holes drilled into the board and tied off the end of the rope to secure the board. Through use and abuse the knots on the board had started to come loose, and I told both of the kids to stay off the swing until I could find a better way of securing it. They were both over to the house for a visit, and while I was at work their step-mom was watching over them. The two of them were playing in the back yard while my second ex was in the house making lunch.
The way the story was explained to me was that my son, even though he had been told to stay off the swing, decided that he was going to swing anyway. His sister warned him, but he told her that she couldn’t tell him what to do. So off he went swinging, and of course the knot came loose and the board dropped. It wouldn’t have been so bad, had I not put bricks down from the back steps to the gate. When the rope let loose, my dear son went flying and did a face plant right on to the bricks. He split his forehead open, and came into the house screaming and gushing blood. I think the boy liked getting stitches. His step-mom called me and told me what happened, and I told her to head to the hospital with him and I would call his mother.
I left work and broke every speed limit to get to the hospital and my son. By the time I got there he was already in being prepped to be sewed up, and I stood there with him as they again sutured up his head. He had a perfect impression of a brick on his forehead, and all I could think was, if this had been anyone else, the hospital would have called CPS. Fortunately at the time I worked for CPS.
On another occasion, he decided that he wanted to go hunting for worms in the back yard. Since worms like to hide under things he decided that it would be a great idea to look under the bricks that I had laid down as a walkway. The same bricks that had split his head open. I was in the house, and he in the backyard “excavating” the bricks when a fight broke out between two of the dogs I owned at the time. I went running out the back door to break up the fight, not realizing that he had pulled up the majority of bricks and had piled them right off the back steps. Needless to say, as I flew out the back door I literally hit the bricks and went tumbling head long into the yard. This time it was I who ended up banged and cut up. After separating the dogs I turned my attention to my son. Back in those days the kid could move fast! I so wanted to kill him, but his step-mom stepped in and sent me to my room to calm down. I nursed a sprained wrist and ankle for weeks afterwards, and had cuts and bruises all over my legs and arms from where I fell.
Through the years he and I have had our moments were we both wanted to kill each other. He is a smart ass, like his father, and stubborn. He has been through some serious illnesses through his teens and now as a young adult still suffers from problems with his joints. It makes it so that he doesn’t like to get out, and spends much of his time in front of a computer, his window and connection to the outside world.
He’s a bright young man, with an IQ that borders on genius, something he must have gotten from his mother. He is fanatical about computers, and can take pieces parts and build a system from scratch. He was never athletic, and that was fine. He would always get into trouble with his teachers because he would finish his assignments and then take out a book and read while in class. The only problem with that was he would get so engrossed in the reading that he would forget to turn in the assignment, and then get a “F” for the day. He would argue with his teachers when they were wrong about some fact in class, and then proceed to show them where they were wrong. Unfortunately, he would do it in front of the other students, thus endearing himself to his teachers.
Often I have wondered where he got his snarky, sarcastic attitude, and then I read some of the things that I have written over the years, and recall conversations with teachers, supervisors and spouses and realize that he truly is his father’s son.
I know, for me, humor, wit, sarcasm and seeing the world in a way others don’t, is a coping mechanism for the things I have seen, and now the physical problems I am going through. I don’t know if those traits are inherited, but if they are my son has inherited them from me. He is a bright, albeit cynical young man, who in too many ways reminds me of me.
I love him dearly, even though there have been times where I have wanted to throttle him. He is a lot like me, and I guess that is where some of the conflict comes from. I know I don’t think I could put up with me. But, I am proud of him, and proud of how he is working to over come the physical problems that he has been dealt. He is a bright young man, with a lot of potential and future. God willing he will have a long and wonderful life, and reach his full measure of ability. The only thing I wish is that he would get a hair cut.
Thanks for being my son, I love you and happy birthday!