That's my boy: Finally recognizing myself in my son


Tom Deja
 
 

By Christopher Garlington

Contributor

There were times I wasn't sure my son belonged to me. I worried perhaps there'd been a mix up in maternity, like maybe one of the nurses held my actual son in her arms, his cherubic mug illuminating the entire ward, then looked at me and thought, `This can't be right. Give him the trucker baby!'

My infant son was unlike me in so many ways my friends insisted we'd adopted.

First, he was gorgeous. Seriously, he was a good-looking baby. He'd make women swoon in the produce aisle; strangers were compelled to pick him up and then, as I wrestled him out of their hands, they'd look at me-an unholy mash-up of Jack Black and Philip Seymour Hoffman's uglier brother-and refuse to give him back.

Like they were saving him.

Secondly, his head is huge. I can't take the kid downtown; people start following us because THEY THINK WE'RE A PARADE!

Our disparity really becomes clear when I can't take it any more and I turn to drink. Then my son shows his true nature: street preacher. Where my inner child is a drug-crazed beer addicted hobbit, his is an angry, implacable Amish preacher who will catch me sneaking a PBR in the pantry, raise his bony little fist and decry "BEER IS DRUGS, DAD!"

I'm not entirely convinced he's mine. I mean, I'm suspicious, but it's tempered by the still moments, the graceful, accidental snapshots when he rolls his head into my shoulder and falls asleep or when he's whispering poop jokes in my ear and then laughs so hard he pees his pants-these are the hard arguments for him being mine.

And, yeah, he's cute and he's no fan of beer (yet), but most of his life is made of these candid instants, these stunning, high-resolution memories of nothing special, when he's not paying attention and I know, like some kind of radiant signal pinging through my brain, without question this is me duplicated.

The other day I heard him on the back porch, his melodic voice angelic in its clarity, like a little bell, singing in Latin. In Latin. I hid in the kitchen trying to stifle a little tear of pride, trying to take it in, to internalize just how brilliant this kid is, silently high-fiving nobody, until I couldn't stand it and asked him what Latin prayer he was singing.

"You're stupid, Dad. It's Dora the Explorer."

So, yeah. He's mine.

 
 
 





 
 
 
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