Today is my oldest child’s birthday. He’s 13. At 13 he’s been through more than any kid should ever have to. My wife and I had him very young. I was 20 and she was 21. We were married in July the year before and she was pregnant with him at that time(we didn’t know). At 20 years old, I was still learning how to take care of myself, how was I supposed to take care of a child? Lucky for me, my bride is a much stronger person than I am.
Every guy wants a boy to raise. He has dreams of catch in the front yard, baseball games in the summer, swing sets, and walking hand in hand down the sidewalk. Basically a best friend for life. Someone who looks up to you. A chance for you to right the wrongs that happened with your own father. “I’m going to be the best dad ever!” I was a horrible dad for the 1st 10 years of his life.
I remember small details when he was born. What I was wearing, who was there, the time, and my thoughts. I remember thinking my life is going to change and I didn’t know how to handle it. Like every situation back then, I drank. I stayed in the hospital for a few days with my bride as she recouped from giving birth. I signed the birth certificate and made decisions like name, middle name, and circumcision. I was playing the role of a man but little did I know my new born son was more of a man at that time than I was.
Flash forward a few years and now my oldest is a big brother. He’s a pretty solid big brother at that. Wants to take care of his little brother and sister. He wants out of mom and dad’s room so he can show his little brother how to be a “big boy”. He’s also taking care of his mom while she has contractions. His dad is at the bar again. While dad is pushing back beer after beer, he’s at home breathing through contraction after contraction with his mom. Can you imagine being 8 years old and going through that ? I admire my son for having the courage to be a man when his dad didn’t.
My son has always been there for my family. When I’d be out drinking and his brother and sister would ask “Where’s daddy” he handled that question. Mom was too tired and aggravated with that question to answer it any more. When mom was in bed late at night crying he was there with a shoulder to cry on. When dad came home drunk and started fights, he took the other kids and went elsewhere shielding them from the evil I created. I look up to my son. I admire my son. I hope I can be half the man he is.
So in the eyes of age my son is a teenager today. I hope he enjoys his teenage years more than his first 12. He was a man before he was a kid. That’s just not fair. I hope he makes a mistake and learns from it. I hope he turns in a paper late and tries to hide it from us. I hope he comes home late from curfew and tries to sneak in the front door. I hope he has to sit through a boring “dad” lecture. I hope he gets to be a kid. Most of all I hope he sees the mistakes his dad made and learns from them. I hope he’s smart enough not to poison himself with alcohol like I did. I hope he never has to hear his son tell him he hates him. I hope the best for him.
I look up to him. I admire his strength and character. In many ways, he’s my hero. I thank God my son gave me another chance to earn his trust and be his dad. Our relationship today is better than ever. He’s my friend, he’s my son. I’m incredibly thankful to him for allowing me back into his life. We’ve made positive memories together as opposed to all the negative ones. While trips, baseball games, football games, laser tagging, and other activities help ease the pain for him, I’d imagine it’s never truly gone. I feel awful for that. I’m truly sorry for the pain I caused. I’m proud of him in so many ways. So today he turns 13. What do you give the person that taught you how to be a man? I’m not real sure. Mom decided a computer would be good. I think I’ll start with a hug and “love you”. I love you and am proud of you. Happy birthday Kahden