My boy came home today from his summer camp, and man, was he wired. He couldn’t hear anything I said to him. I tried and I tried not to lose my temper and yell at him. Every time I do, I feel so bad, because it scares him and after all, he’s just a boy. I want to raise him to be strong, but respectful. Funloving, but wise. I keep giving him contradictory messages.
I thought I was going to write today about something else, like the oil spill, the tea party, the world cup or even the NBA finals. But my boy, who loves his dad, came home from camp today. And I had to write a letter to my son.
A letter to my son
It is always a bittersweet journey for a father to see his little boy grow up and away from him. You are seven now, and much too big to nap and cuddle with your dad. Not in my eyes, but in yours that get bigger and stronger every day. And so, we move to a new stage and I try to teach you how to be a man, the best way I can.
I make you exercise to make your body stronger than mine, and to make you run faster and jump higher than I ever could. I make you trace your letters and numbers so that you will never know hardship or poverty. There could be better ways to teach you these things, but I don’t know about them. And sometimes I’m not as patient as I should be. I am sorry. I just want you to be better than I ever had a chance to be. Maybe every dad wants that and every dad pushes too hard sometimes.
But I will try to be better. I will try to remember that you are just a boy. Only 7 tender years old. Sometimes the old man forgets because I judge you by the standards of your older sister or your baby brother, neither of which is fair. You are yourself, Miles, my first boy. You do the things a little boy of 7 does, more than a 3 year old, but not as much as a 12 year old. You leave things about the house, you lose your toys and spill soda on the couch and watch too much television. Its because you are a boy. Just a boy.
Before I scold you or raise my voice again, I will try to remember that though I am trying to give you a good example of being a man, you are just a boy. My little boy. Don’t grow up too fast , because pretty soon, you’ll be that man I’m trying to make you. I am happy with you being a boy of 7, so be a boy of 7. Stay mischievous and tough and loud, hopefully without being too rough on your little brother. And sleep every night knowing your father loves you deeply and more than anything in this world.
I give you permission to be loud and take things apart to see how they work. Just try to put them back together at least some times. You can annoy your sister slightly and bully your brother just a little bit. Just don’t wait too long to use the bathroom and stop hiding your soiled clothes when you do. Don’t stop running to meet me when I walk in the door. And don’t stop jumping on me and hugging me tight when its way too early in the morning. 7 years old. When I was your age, the world was big and confusing for me too. But you are better than I was, and I suspect you will be better than I am. At least, that’s what I work for, my son. My 7 year old boy. I love you. I can’t wait to see what 8 brings.