A decade ago, I was waiting to meet Patrick Whitfield Gibbons.
Alas, no one by that name appeared, as on March 17, as my wife was in an operating room at the hospital, just as doctors were in the process of removing a small human from inside of her, she looked at me and said, in a deep, rumbling growl of a voice, “Parker. His name is Parker.”
I saw no need to argue with this, as the tone of her voice indicated that she was not in the mood for discussion. A doctor in the room said, “Jennifer you don’t have to name hi…”
“Parker it is!” he said, and went back to his process of doing what he was doing on the other side of the barrier, which I peeked over juuuuust long enough to regret.
And so, when St. Patrick’s Day arrives, we will celebrate St. Parker’s Day, as my son joins the ranks of the double digiters.
When he came into this world, he was covered with gross stuff and made a lot of noise. He has been that way mostly every since.
He is a standard-issue little boy – a dirt magnet who eschews shoes and finds what’s underneath a log far more interesting than, well, most anything. While he can play a mean video game, it’s going to take an awful lot of bad weather to keep him from being outside doing what he does best, which is being outside.
I see a lot of myself in him. He has a lot of my very good traits – natural curiosity, a good sense of humor, a love of Bama football (that is genetic, by the way).
His curiosity often blossoms in the form of nonstop questions that leap from one thought to the next. We had this conversation recently:
HIM: Dad, in football, if a ball bounces off a player’s head and another player catches it, is that still a catch?
HIM: What if it bounces off two heads?
HIM: What if the player has two heads?
ME: You ask me a lot of questions.
HIM: You’re my dad. It’s what you’re here for.
For what it’s worth, that’s possibly the most awesome thing you can ever have your son say to you.
I will have to admit that Parker also has some of my, er, other traits. Let’s just say sitting still and keeping quiet are not merit badges he will earn any time soon. That said, I have good news: In about 30 years, he will have figured some of that out. Some.
Plenty of folks lament the passing of time with their kids. I don’t ever mourn that milestones have passed. I think about not changing diapers and not spoon feeding and not getting car sick. (My wife and I would be happy to share with you one particularly lovely time during a torrential downpour, when we had to stop at a fast food restaurant at one of the most disturbing places in Jacksonville, Fla. Not interested? Very well.)
Instead, I look forward to what lies ahead. I think of all the cool signature life events that await. I can’t wait to teach him how to drive a stick shift. I want to be there when he decides he’s too old for trick-or-treating but would like to walk around the neighborhood to, you know, just see what’s going on. I want to be there to see him decide he needs a razor to shave even though probably, like his old man, he will be able to go days if not weeks without shaving until he is in his 30s.
My son’s first decade on this planet has been a fantastic journey of discovery and exploration. Sure, like anyone’s first 10 years on the block, there have been the trials and tribulations that come with learning how to become a complete human. As a dad, my job is to continue to try and shape and mold him and help him be the best human he can be. I’m four decades into this wonderful journey, and I’m fortunate that my dad is still teaching me along the way. I hope I can do the same for my son. And I hope he never gets to a point where he feels he can’t ask me a question – any question. After all, I’m his dad. It’s what I’m here for.
Happy St. Parker’s Day.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.