I haven’t written about The Boy in too long.
I shuttered the blog for most of last year, not because
nothing was going on, just nothing good was going on. It was so not-good that I
didn’t even have the heart to chronicle it. More than not wanting to remember
it later, I didn’t want to remember it at the time.
Still don’t. 2012 was a fucking sinkhole of despair and
hopelessness. I suspect the only reason 2013 is going better so far is we’ve
upped my anti-melancholy meds considerably. It’s no kind of way to live a life,
but the alternative leaves even less room for error.
With respect to The Missus, who is overbooked enough between
Mommy duties and work responsibilities that she doesn’t have time to hold my
hand 24/7, last year’s saving grace was The Boy. In the midst of some seriously
unrelenting heartbreak and failure, he’s been the only light. I’ll eat all the
misery and unhappiness in the world if it means getting to be there as The Boy grows to be a man. I’ll eat
every sin in the global village, from the mayor to the idiot’s.
This last week has been particularly rewarding. He’s been in
taekwondo for over a year now, with only slow, spotty improvement. The Boy
rises to almost any challenge put before him, as long as it doesn’t tax him
physically or push his at-risk button—a large red button about the size of a
Stop sign he wears on a chain around his neck.
Happily, he began enjoying taekwondo before it started to
tax him physically, or make him feel bodily threatened. Now that it’s doing
both, he’s taking his first tentative steps to confronting those
fears/disinclinations. The place we take him to is awesome, and it’s all about
the staff. The instructor-to-kid ratio is usually about 3-5 to one, and if your
kid’s got the goods, he/she gets promoted to the next class up, and if your kid
doesn’t, they work with him individually until he does.
Just this last week, he’s gone from being Jerry Lewis on his
nunchucks to Kwai Chang Caine with nothing in between. One year of reliably substandard weapons-freestyle, followed last week by unprecedented excellent form. Stunning. It was
literally like watching a whole different kid.
The same day, I picked up a used punching/kicking bag, and
he spent hours Saturday and Sunday sitting on the kitchen floor, filling
up the huge base with one 12-oz cup of sand after another, which due to its
moistness, had to be shaken out of the plastic funnel he is using, one cup at a
time, two 50-pound bags so far with more to go.
And his reading is phenomenal. He is reading words most of
the students at our second-tier local university would stumble over.
“Geosynchronous orbit” was one that I remember from this weekend. We’re reading
science fiction comics on the iPad—he on the gizmo, me following along on a
hard copy—and I can’t swear to his comprehension, but he mounts these
polysyllabic words with the fearlessness of Hillary assaulting Everest. And
when we’re done, we stop and talk about the concepts (mostly involving time travel and alternate universes), with which his
understanding is already remarkable fluid. I thank The Missus and Dr. Who for that.
And besides his paper accomplishments, the greatest thing
about him is the young man he is growing up to be. Still so different from most
of his peers, like his favorite martial arts instructor (pictured, above), he is destined to
remain an outsider. Most of the other little boys his age seem cut from a
similar reckless, rambunctious cloth, but ours wanders determinedly, distractedly to his own
Oh that reminds me! He’s also taking guitar classes now, and
his progress there too has been amazing. Besides knowing a little bit on day
one from watching me flail for years on my own guitar, he is picking up chords
and concepts seemingly effortlessly. He is already getting bored with his
practice assignments, so we are upping the complexity level at home, with the understanding
that he also has to learn the simplified way to satisfy his instructor’s
We’re still struggling a bit on the social aspect of this
experiment in dislocation, both he and I. Being cut from the same cloth, a similar social anxiety inhibits us both, although he already has more moxy about
marching up to a group of unfamiliar peers and trying to join the play than I
ever was or am yet.
He is already so much better than me. A low bar, admittedly,
but it’s all I ever wanted for him other than health and happiness. Besides the
election and The Boy, you can take your 2012 and stuff it into a deep deep pit
where they’ve never even heard of the sun.
But where I take my pyrrhic political victory in stride,
I’ll hang onto the memory of The Boy’s successes this last year—including learning to read and ride a bike over the summer—if I live to be
a hundred (perish the thought).
And when memory fails, as it almost surely will, there will
be this testament. I love you son, without reservation; I always have and always
will. You were wanted in this world and loved to the fullest extent your Mommy and I
The rest is up to you.