A Father's Day Wish For My Sons

A version of this post first published June 9, 2016, when my oldest - now 20 - was still a teenager.

My teenager was forced to emerge yesterday from his dark hole of a bedroom because it was the first day of summer break, and we had to go get his passport renewed.  

Just a few days before, I'd stood on the front porch, bantering with him as he walked out to his car, watching him pull out and waving goodbye to him as he left for one of his last few days of his junior year.  

He hates when I do this.  

A Father's Day Wish For My Sons | Bring Mommy A Martini

"Why do you do that?  It's so weird," he'll say in a tone that makes it clear he's disgusted by the whole thing.

I've explained to him many times that my dad used to do the very same thing: walk me out and wave me off when I left for school each morning.  It kinda drove me bananas, too, but I'm not sure why.  

Here we were now, getting an early start on our first official day of summer break.  

As usual, I'd lost track of some details during the last few weeks of school, with all the juggling of end-of-year junk, so I had it in the back of my mind that it was my other kid's passport that was expired, and planned to pull him out of school early one day and get it renewed.  

As it turned out, it was the teenager's passport that had expired, and he couldn't miss any school, or he'd forfeit his final exam exemption.  

So it had to wait until school was out for summer break, and by then, all the area passport offices were booked up until the end of the month, and - of course - we are on a very tight time schedule, so we had to drive 45 minutes to a nearby town out in the sticks of the Texas hill country.

"We'll make a day of it!" I said to him in my most excited-mom-voice.  

He replied with, "Um no.  We won't,” and rolled his eyes.

Using my favorite parenting technique of pretending I didn't hear him, I jumped in the car, and cranked up the radio to 80's hits, which I'm proud to say my child appreciates and enjoys, and actually knows many of the lyrics.  

He gave me some side-eye, but I could tell he was dying to sing along, and he eventually did.

I glanced over as he looked up something on his phone to share with me, and I watched his hand holding the phone, his thumb scrolling down to find whatever it was he was looking for.  

I noticed how much his hands look like my dad's.

I've noticed this before, just like moms do; we see glimpses of our parents in our kids' eyes, or in their walk or their mannerisms.  

Usually they're those moments where you notice the similarities fondly, with only a few of them eliciting a small gasp and a sometimes out-loud voice where you'll say, "Holy shit, my kid sounds just like my mother."

When I've pointed it out to him before - about how much his hands look like his Granddad's - he's said, "I know they do, but I can't stand my hands. They're small and stubby."

He's right.  They really are.  

Mine are the same, just a (slightly) more feminine version.  And I've thought the exact same thing.  

While my son scrolled through his phone, I lost myself in thought.  

I thought about those mornings when my dad would walk out with me before I left for school, saying some goofy thing he'd always say to make me laugh, waving me off with those hands of his.

I would always roll my eyes.

In the wintertime, Dad's hands scraped the frost from my car windows, so I wouldn't have to do it myself.  And he'd surprise me by filling my gas tank when he'd come to visit me at college.  

My dad reminded me recently about how he and my mom had kept my now-teenaged-son overnight for New Year's in 2000. My son was nearly a year old.  

Then he told me something about that overnight visit he had never told me before. 

He said that just before sun-up on New Year's Day, my dad scooped up my son, wrapped him in a blanket, and walked down to the end of his street, where a bank of trees opens up revealing the horizon.

A wide open swath of Texas spread out before them, with a backdrop of the dark purple that came moments before the sun would crest.

Too early for the town to be rustling awake after a night of holiday celebrating, everything was still and quiet.

With my infant son in his arms, my dad stood there in the chilly air, pointing out across that horizon where the purple sky and the gray-yellow of winter grass met, pointing a short, stubby finger out and telling my son in a soft voice to “watch for the sun, watch for the sun.”

I imagine my son, with a pacifier bobbing gently up and down, bundled up and wrapped in blankets and my dad’s arms, his big, dark eyes looking into my dad’s, wondering what spectacular thing Grandad was showing him.

My dad has always been keenly aware of “the moment,” and makes sure not to lose it.

He shared that special, quiet morning of January 1st, 2000, with my baby boy, watching the first sunrise of the new millennium together.

What a gift - that my son doesn’t remember, of course, but that moment was so special to my dad and to my son, too, in that moment.

My son doesn't love his hands.  He thinks they're too small and too stubby.  

But they're so similar to my dad's, in the way that they look, it makes my heart burst.  

My wish for my boys is that their hands can have the same experiences as the ones they've descended from.  

That their capable hands will work hard, doing honest work, not just tapping on the keys on a video game keyboard.

That they'll repair broken parts on a car, or a bike, or a toy, or piece of furniture, like my dad's hands have done many times.

That those precious, stubby fingers will write thoughtful, moving words to someone they love.  

That they'll hold out a bouquet of flowers for someone who steals their heart, or to their daughter when her heart's been broken for the first time.

That they'll scrape ice off frosty windows, and wave goodbye on school mornings to a son or daughter of their own.

That they'll hold the squishy softness of a grandchild in the warm sunshine of a chilly morning.

I wish these gifts and so much more for my boys and their hands that look just like their granddad's.  

And I wish for my sons to one day tell me how much it means to them, looking back, that I'd said goofy things to them as I waved them off in the mornings with my own stumpy little fingers.  

Just like I'm saying to my dad now.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  


A Father's Day Wish For My Sons | Bring Mommy A Martini
A Father's Day Wish For My Sons | Bring Mommy A Martini