With the dog, I am jogging and now pause at the corner of Market and Church street which is the metaphysical breakpoint in this town: further West is the city park where I will be jogging for the next 45 minutes or so, to the North and uphill is the elementary school that the kids will have returned to school on Monday (whew), directly South is the center of downtown with the Reeves Theater on Main street, and onward to the East our house sits where I’ll be back after finishing the run.
Earlier this morning, Scarlett will have come into our room and climbed into bed quietly and proceed to yell into my right ear “Happy Birthday!” at which point it will have been time to get out of bed and start the day and this run. Later after the run, I will get back and Jack will have said “Ha Ba, Dad!,” and I would have replied, “Happy Birthday, Jack” because in two days Jack will be three and this will be the last birthday where he won’t object to sharing his day with mine.
Mac hasn’t decided to wish me a happy birthday yet. This morning he is sitting quietly on the computer, researching the latest merchandise from Ben-10. I’ve mixed feelings on this. Yes, he is using his words and spelling and developing his facility with computers and google but on the other hand, it’s only going to be a matter of time before he figures out passwords, birthdates, SSNs and credit card numbers.
Ever since the kids have been born, birthdays are both anticlimactic and re-affirming. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: there is nothing like having kids to pull your head out of your ***—if that is what you need and you won’t know until you do— which I did sorely need and now know. And so while nothing particularly special is going to happen today, hearing “Happy Birthday, Daddy,” will be about as good as it gets and it is hard to think of what could be better; everything else is icing. It also tends to tie all the loose ends and the could-of-beens of life in a neat package, because when you are looking at your kids, it’s very hard to think of any possibilities in which you would switch this eventuality for any other timeline. Kids validate you in ways that nothing else can; Your kids are both explanatory and exculpatory, if you need that sort of thing—which I do.
Of course, your job and everything else you do shows what you’ve done (duh) but those kids are and will be a summation of what you are. I heard that writing books, running your business, etc., are your “babies,” but those are things under your control entirely and your kids are not. It’s the times when they demonstrate they are separate and unique that are the most impressing on me. It’s why I think those-with-kids are entirely different than those-without-kids. I know this statement is specious and sophist and maybe just says I’ve never finished that book.
Of course, no one is where they thought they would be, whether they are looking at their older or younger self. There are now studies to show this is true.1 So, if you think you are, you’re not thinking hard enough.
I am now 42 and will re-read Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy.
January 6, 2013