Today is my son’s birthday. He’s the ripe old age of 9, and as the saying goes, it seems like only yesterday he came into this world in the middle of a snow-covered March night. He was a surprise baby, for sure. But to imagine our lives without him is to imagine a far less beautiful world. But before his birthday was on the horizon I was thinking about that father and son bond. Before I had a son I thought it was just some sort of myth. Surely it doesn’t matter the sex of your child. You’ll bond with them just as strongly no matter what. On some level I think that’s true, but until the time comes when a man becomes the father of a son you just can’t accurately comment on this.
Before the boy came into my life, I was the proud papa of two beautiful and loving daughters. I had no problems bonding with them. In fact, I felt like there was no way I could bond with a boy any stronger than how I felt about my girls. By June of 2004 we were a tight-knit family of four. So much so that my wife even went away for the weekend to visit with a college friend in Ohio. It was just me and the girls. My oldest was 4 and my youngest was 1. We went sight-seeing in the village and checked out artisan stores and got ice cream. We watched videos and hung out. I was never one of those fathers that had to push off the hard stuff on mom. I just jumped in and did it. It felt as if it couldn’t get much better than it already was. Well, a month later we found out there was yet more joy on its way in the form of another baby. We were a little on the surprised side to say the least. Precautions were being taken, but maybe not as frequent as they should’ve been. Needless to say a home pregnancy kit and a visit to the OB confirmed the reason for my wife’s lateness. I panicked. Not because of the fact that we were going to have three kids necessarily. But because I felt we had the perfect family unit. I felt one more might alter that balance and cause a disturbance in the force. Well, that and my wife and I had gone through two miscarriages. Once, two years before our oldest was born; and then again between our daughters. To say they were difficult times is putting it lightly. Once you have a baby and then go through all that physical and emotional “fucking with”, if you will, it’s that much harder. You know what you’ve lost. Anyways, after our second daughter was born I felt we’d gotten through all that and we could begin to move on as a family of four. I guess I was wrong about that.
Once the initial shock had subsided and a healthy heartbeat was heard I could relax a little and come to terms with the idea that I was going to be the father of three. I never imagined that scenario in my life. It was a damn near revolutionary concept for my head to wrap around. And then when I found out I was going to be the father of a son, well consider my mind blown. On March 2nd, 2005 around 1am Owen Christopher came into our lives. He was healthy, happy, and a cute redhead, just like his oldest sister and mom. In all honesty, those first couple years weren’t much different than when the girls were little. It wasn’t till he was about 2 1/2 that those boy tendencies started to show. A love of dinosaurs, cars, and banging on the drums. He’d play well with his sisters(especially Audrey who was only two years older.) They were two peas in a pod(still are, really.) Thanks to a secondhand VHS copy of the 70s ‘Superfriends’ cartoons he found a love for superheroes. Spiderman, Batman, the Hulk; then moving on deeper into the X-Men and Avengers mythos. He’s now at a point where the Marvel/DC knowledge he possesses goes over my head. I learn from him. I nod and act like I know who he’s talking about, but really I’m just in awe.
I’m at that point now where I realized just how independent he is of me. He no longer needs me to fill him in on stuff. He finds things to love on his own. Not that I’m completely out of the picture when it comes to influencing him, or sharing things with him that will peak his interest. Last weekend we all went shopping as a family. While at Half Price Books him and I are looking around and he looks at me and says “I really like Dr. Dog. I love their song ‘My Old Ways’.” I said “Yeah, that’s a great song. Really good album.” Then he says “I also like Spoon’s ‘Metal School’.” To say I was a proud papa is putting it mildly. I can remember being his age and listening to Van Halen on my little GE boom box in my bedroom creating these elaborate battles between Star Wars action figures and GI Joe action figures, all the while Diver Down soundtracked the whole scene. I imagine Owen doing the same thing in his room now. I couldn’t be prouder. Seeing him lying on the couch with my green Panasonic headphones on his head as Dr. Dog comes pouring in from his little MP3 player makes my heart well up, or do whatever happy hearts do.
I wonder if my dad ever had that moment with me? I wonder if there was ever that point in his life where he looked at me and thought, “Wow. That’s me. That’s my influence on my son.” I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve had that moment with my son. I’ve seen my influence and love for him come back at me. That’s all I could ask for, really. Last night I took Owen to the comic book store as part of his birthday present. He picked out 20 .50 comics. The other thing he asked for? Plastic sleeves to store them in, to keep them in good shape. Just like the sleeves I keep my vinyl in.
Just like his old man. Happy Birthday, Owen.