I dropped him off at school this morning, the birthday boy, 14yrs and countin'...my lord. He registered for high school last night, made his selection for classes - Spanish, beginning guitar, and of course stuff like Algebra. While at the high school, his mother, also my wife, treated him to a new hoodie emblazoned with the high school logo...that's what he was wearing when I dropped him off this morning. About the time the car door shut, my parents called hoping to catch mr. birthday before school. They didn't catch him, but they did catch me, right in the act of humbled awe at my 14 yr old son all tall and proud and hoodied walking into the last few months of his middle school stint because high school's on the horizon where he'll be strumming Spanish guitar tunes and asking girls for help with algebra. I painted this water-logged canvas for my parents on the phone and without hesitation they said 'now you know how we felt.' And I choked a whisper - 'yes, now I do.'
Your parents tell you a lot of things when you're young, sorta like I do with my kids. And like my kids, I didn't listen too much to my parents, but I do recall that phrase 'one of these days, you'll know.' Its really unfair to throw that at a kid but life's not fair, so you do it anyway with the hope that it'll lodge in his brainpan somewhere and years later, like some time-delayed depth charge, he'll be sitting in front of the school watching his first born, the very strength of his life who is all of a sudden 14 which comes right before 15 and 16, and BAM! off it goes and he realizes 'now I know.'
Moments like that leave you tender, or at least they do me, toward those still young (your kids) and toward those grown old (your parents). They even leave you a little tender toward yourself, which is really not a bad thing at all. You promise yourself, or at least I did this morning, to take it a little easier on folks, especially those you love, maybe even yourself, because you've survived long enough that yes, now you know...and you know it hurts, god it hurts like those big beer horses are stompin' all over your heart, but you wouldn't have it any other way, no sir...but it goes oh so very, very fast...for once upon a time, my precious son, we were so very young.