Today my son Noah turns ten! That’s wonderful! But it’s also a reminder of both the passing of my youthful energy and relative innocence and the path toward his adulthood and future.
I note my son’s birthday in both small and big ways. I’ve been playing Coldplay’s “Clocks” incessantly for the past week and a half, because it was the summer of Coldplay when Noah was born. Every HBO promotion of shows and movies that summer had the “Clocks” melody in it, so I couldn’t get away from it even when I wanted to.
Every time I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy I think for a moment of the summer of ’03 and Noah’s birth, My wife was literally days away from going into labor when we watched it in a marathon session — at home and in the movie theater.
I think of seeing the crown of my son’s matted hair about five minutes before the final push on this day. I think of the fact that I basically floated on happiness and hopes, dreams fulfilled and exceeded in the year before Noah’s birth. I don’t think that I ever felt so much romantic love as the love I felt for my wife and son this time a decade ago.
But I also think of the regrets of my past and the need to ensure that my son doesn’t make the same mistakes I did. To go after what he wants for his life, for his happiness. To not refuse genuine help, friendship or love when offered. To trust with wisdom and discernment, in himself and in others, knowing that some who may call him friend may yet betray that trust. To be content with being a contrarian, but not too content. To allow himself the opportunity of failure so that no early love in his life goes unrequited, and so that even his parents know his mind and heart.
I think, too, of my son’s future, of how we keep him on the path to college, a career and calling that he doesn’t lose sight of or regret later on, of the connections he’ll need to make along the way. And of the money we’ve already spent to get him this far. A quarter million on housing, $80,000 on child care, a paid-off ’04 Honda Element and numerous other expenditures just to get him to fifth grade. With middle school and high school and high-stakes testing, sports and summer camps, more travels for vacation and family visits to come.
I’m exhausted already, and my son’s my only child. But if nothing else, with what’s left of my dwindling youth, I want to make sure that Noah never has to search for faith, for God or wisdom or hope to hold on to. That, at least, I can secure, if nothing else. Through book and other means, all is with him already.