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In The Blink Of An Eye - My Son, The Graduate

Every so often I'll catch glimpse of it. In my iPhone, in a window and often times at night. I look at it and don't understand it, where it came from, why it exists, who it is and why is it attached to me. It's my face staring back at me asking the same question, maybe for the same reasons. How did I get here? Yesterday I was graduating high school and as lost about life as I wanted to be. Now I'm providing guidance to...children of all people. And I'm viewed a positive and strong. Which, for me on some days, is just outrageously laughable. But maybe this is what the parenting game is all about, often wondering if you're good enough and chasing this pursuit perpetually.

I sit here typing these words understanding that I have no choice in this "growing up" and all the attachments of responsibility that came with it. I guess some people choose not to even when they bring kids into the world, but that was never going to happen with me. I've embraced it all even when I haven't understood them.

There has been an incredible amount of anticipation and tension for one of the culminating moments in our lives as a family --- my son's graduation from high school. I'd been repairing the house and painting it for weeks for the twelve family members who were coming to stay with us. I've been so busy that I haven't blogged in weeks. What's worse, I didn't even have any ideas of what to blog about and worse than that, I didn't care. The twelve arrived and then some more. Then my kitchen sink sprang a leak once everyone was here. I called the plumber but he never showed (I guess he doesn't like money). I finally discovered the leak on my own but not before water began pooling in my garage from two days worth of repeatedly flooding the cabinet beneath the sink. With a wife who is a serious cook and so many people around, there was no way we were not going to be able to use it. In the end I wound up replacing the whole faucet with my father after almost everyone left.

The big day came one Thursday ago. Everyone was happy (except my wife and I who were at each other's throats over a whole bunch of inconsequential to dos that we couldn't agree on who should get done). My son the graduate was dressed to the Nines in a pair of wingtips I'd wear myself (especially since I bought them), a bow tie and suspenders. I told him he looked great but he was going to burn up under his gown. I dropped him off in advance of the event so he could line up with his class but there was a small kink in the program: he misplaced his tassel which sent me and mom on a citywide search. Ultimately it was discovered in a driveway of a friend we picked up along the way. There was a lot of rushing around. A lot of yelling and some honking. But finally he received his tassel and marched in with his class.

I sat in the balcony armed with my camera, my quiet and my not-sure-what-my-emotions-are disposition. I caught a glimpse of him, barely distinguishable from his peers in the picture above. I read the program, cracked some jokes with my father-in-law and then cried during the entire degree confirmations, well in advance of them calling his name. It was a mix of elation and exhaustion and a lot more which I can't really describe. It was so bad my daughter forced her way down the row and hopped in my lap to tell me, "Daddy, it's going to be okay."

And then came the barbecues - three in total. I went through two bags of charcoal and perfected some of my grilling techniques by accident. On Sunday we went to church and a final dinner and on Monday brunch as a family, all ten of us. Ten because by then seven had already traveled back home.

Read Shoelessness - A Father's Shame

In the blink of an eye, it came and went, just like that. There is no more buildup and no more pomp and circumstance, just the clean-up and the memories. And now I am sitting at this keyboard. My house is quiet, save for the singing and laughter of my little girl. It's as if nothing ever happened last week. In the blink of an eye my son became a young man right in front of me. As if he were never little, never young, wide-eyed with outrageous dreams. As if he never believed in Santa Claus or played with action figures or ran around the house screaming just like my daughter does now. In the blink of an eye he turned thirteen. In the blink of an eye I was a young man who never thought I could be a father to anyone, read anyone the riot act or teach anyone about anything. And now I have to look up at my son to share real grown up wisdom with him.

I look back on all this, trying to extract substance from the vapor of my memories and I do understand that I was always meant to be my son's father. I was always meant to be transformed into the man that I am. And all this in turn was meant to inspire me to write these words for some father, some parent out there who can't see see the future or even fathom it, just as I couldn't. I'm here to let you know you can. As long as you make the effort.

It comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Do your best to make every moment count.

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