My Oldest Child

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Long, long ago.

It is the 19th of December in the year 2018 of the common calendar, and it is a date of special significance to me. At 1:42 AM this morning my son, my firstborn child, turned 20 years old.


20 years ago today, in the middle of the night, I held him for the first time. It’s very easy to admit now that I was terrified. What the hell did I know about kids,much less babies? Only a few days off of 28 years old, I had a couple of friends who had small children, but didn’t really see them that often. I really didn’t spend much time around kids.

Becoming a parent for the first time isn’t actually something you can possibly be ready for. But when they put the baby in your hands for the first time, you realize you haven’t got an awful lot of choice but to get ready, and to do it really, really fast. You figure things out as you go, make the best decisions you can at the time you’re making them, and hope you don’t screw up too badly.

At 20,my son is on the cusp of true maturity, true adulthood. He has struggles now and struggles ahead, but he also has struggles behind. We can all say that, I suppose, but it’s very easy to lose sight of what you’ve made it through.

In some ways, he’s more prepared for his world than I was mine, and in some ways less. And that’s okay. We are not the same. He’s got a lot ahead of him to figure out, and it’s different than what I had to figure out.

I’m going to slightly butcher and slightly extend a line that I think was spoken by Chachi’s mom in the short-lived Happy Days spin-off Joanie loves Chachi. (I feel like I remember his mom was played by John Travolta’s older sister. I should probably look that up.) Last year, he made 19-year-old mistakes. This year, he’ll make 20-year-old mistakes. Next year, he’ll make 21-year-old mistakes. You learn from them, get stronger, get closer to the best version of yourself you can be. What else can you ask?

Me, I’m almost done with 47-year-old mistakes, and we’ll see what 48 brings. I try to be a good example for him, including by making sure he knows I still screw things up sometimes.

Happy birthday, my son, I wish you all the joy and happiness you can have.

Be well, everyone.

Be well, son.

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