I suppose it should come as no surprise to me, but the present seems so much weightier than the past.
Ethan is growing up so quickly. Watching his mind and his personality flourish has taught me more about human development than any of my formal training. What has me most flabbergasted, though, is that when I try to remember him as an infant, I can’t. I can only seem to conjure images of Anna.
I need to remember these moments.
Admittedly, a part of me wants to chronicle my own personal parental journey for the sake of grabbing hold to something that slips every man’s grasp: that elusive moment in time when we stop for a moment, lift our heads and declare the beauty before us to be good. The river of time pulls us so quickly away from those moments, though, try as we might to pause longer and savor them; and we’re swept onwards with a handful of earth that seems to dissolve away all too quickly in its flow.
Still, I cannot help but rage against the dying of the light. Savoring these moments—celebrating their arrival and departure—helps carry us through moments of darkness and difficulty yet to come and, perhaps more importantly, helps us articulate what matters most of all as we navigate the river ahead.
I love to pause with my son. When we’re lying outside in the grass and he wants to get up for the thousandth time and run in circles, I ask him to stop for a moment and listen. “Tell me what you hear.” The sound of the neighbor’s mower isn’t important, but the moment of remembrance we just created is. In that fleeting moment, he learned the importance of paying attention to the things that are easy to forget.
So this recollection is my effort to recline in the grass, close my eyes and tell you what I hear.
I’ve noticed that as he develops, Ethan has picked up certain conversational patterns.
When he hears something he’s never heard before, he’ll ask “Daddy, what is that…” and attempt to recreate the sound. When I was putting him to bed the other day, my phone signal created a bit interference on his noise generator. He sat up straightaway and blurted out, “Daddy, what is that…” buzz, buzz, click. When we were praying before bed last night, his stomach gurgled, prompting a “Daddy, what is that…” gurgle, gurgle. The printed word doesn’t do his impressions justice.
I’ve also been amazed (and frightened) at how much he hears and processes from other conversations that get worked into his own. The other day, he came into the living room where I was working on my computer and started out with, “Daddy, look at me.” When I looked up from the screen and he knew he had my full attention, he said very matter-of-factly, “Daddy, you have to come outside and push me on the swing. It’s your job.” Jessica told me later that she told him outside that she was too short to get him in the children’s swing and that it was a “daddy job”.
Prayer time with him has always been precious, but now that he’s older, it’s become a much sweeter time of participation. I usually begin and thank God for our family, and he usually starts right in with a list of things he’s thankful for: his family, his friends, the places we went or the memorable moments of the day. What’s especially interesting is to hear the things that make the biggest impact on him, especially things he brings up long after they’ve passed. A few months back, my sister’s 2-year-old daughter fell down the basement stairs at my parent’s house while we were visiting. Thankfully, she was alright, but those frantic moments must have had an impact on Ethan, because even now he’ll pray for “Harmony who fell down the stairs.”
One of the meaningful moments so far, though, was when he and I were working in the crawlspace beneath our house. It’s smelly, dark and cramped with only about 3 feet of headroom. You would have thought I’d taken him to the zoo. “Ooooh, what is that?” he’d ask about everything down there. He was fascinated with all the water pipes. “Red means hot and blue means cold,” he would remind me (and continued to remind me for months). But my heart was touched when said plainly, “I’m glad to be down here with daddy.”
There are countless funny quirks, mysteries of his amazing little brain that I can’t quite understand but delight in nonetheless. According to him, everything tastes like applesauce. He visits an imaginary land behind the couch called “Munch-a-munch”. If you ask him any morning what he dreamed about, he’ll tell you, “starfish”.
I could go on and on, but time is like inflation—it always seems to move faster than I can. We just passed another Father’s Day, and do you know what my children gave me? Another day full of beautiful memories.