Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Ode to Grit and Growth

This is late.  My older boys graduated from high school and their dad wrote something heartfelt in a timely manner to try and express emotions revealed.  Theo, dear Theo, waits an extra year.  In fact, I am embarrassed to say that, as time has passed and boys grown into men, I've become less and less timely.  Perhaps because I am less and less ready to let go.
Theo's my dirty kid.  His thoughts and manners are clean and pure as fresh snow but his hands are filthy.  Visit Theo and you'll find him arm deep in a motor, or engine, or some other oily, greasy project.  How does it work?  How does it come apart?  And can it go back together and work again?  Honestly, not everything that has come apart has gone back together smoothly but that's, perhaps, a lesson in life we can all share.
"That boy will always have a job offer" I am told.  Willing to work, and work hard, Theo is entirely comfortable getting dirty with projects I probably would have shied away from even when I was young and confident.  I always liked to "tinker"--as did my dad and grandfather-- but, for me, there was always a line drawn between a "tinker" and a full-blown, hair-pulling rebuild.  My patience, what little I used to have, completely eludes me in my graying years.  Theo still enjoys the challenge of the big project as much as the reluctant satisfaction of completing the small task and always has.
So it was really tough when he went off to college last Fall and took with him his handiness around the homestead.  Sometimes tasks waited until he came home for the weekend or on break.  I always felt kind of bad to hit him with a "list" when he walked in the door but he's been a cheerful, pliant recipient of the needs of the household.  I'm sure I'll face those same empty feelings this fall, too, when Year Two begins.
Lest one read this and think I am only raising a worker bee, Theo is also a fun kid to be around.  All of the boys are so different it confounds and fascinates me.  Theo is the only child who gets excited about a photo of a tractor or a video of a steam engine or even a funny cat video.  And while I don't always understand the displacement of a Ford tractor engine any more than Gabe's explanation of how a Bluetooth works or Tony's summary of how non-profits act in a bullish economy, I do listen and enjoy the lessons.  I might not "get it" but I enjoy sharing that precious time.   Dom, you are next...where will your interests lay?
And, oh, isn't the time going so fast?   I sincerely regret all of the precious moments I failed to fully exploit as a dad and I am so sad I cannot return down those lost miles.  After years of being the boy's taxi, it's tough expressing how much it hurts when I drive with an empty passenger seat beside me.  The loss feels both permanent and temporary.  As long as I can imagine the next time we are all together, the familiar sights, sounds and laughter flood my imagination with warmth and joy.   Only then do I feel full again because while one cannot completely shake the brutish feelings of regret, he can strive to replace them with a hopeful brighter vision of the road yet to come.
And for Theo?  He will always be master of his domain--that being of tools, trucks and tinkering.  He's comfortable in his skin and that would be a great place for all of us to be...even if it needs a little soap and water now and then.