My Son Is Eight! Random Thoughts on Being a Father

Hard to believe that my son is eight already. It seems like not that long ago that we were bringing him home from the hospital. Of course, when I think about everything that’s happened since then, it’s clear that a lot of time has gone by.

It’s getting tricky at times to do birthdays for the boy. Mainly because I’m in competition with myself. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of things on his birthday. One year, I made a whole treasure hunt event that took him all over creation. It took something like seven hours to finish. But I’d done it because we had company in town, and we wanted to do some other things–like go antiquing and to some of the stores downtown. I didn’t want to have TRC feel like all he’d done was go to boring stores all day, so I came up with the scavenger hunt idea. It worked wonderfully.

Except that every year since, he’s been looking for really elaborate celebrations. This time around, he kept coming up to me with random things he’d found around the house, wondering if they were clues that would start him off on another adventure. But since I’ve been just laid out with one thing after another for the past ever, I haven’t had enough time to design anything elaborate. And then I feel bad that I wasn’t able to do more.

But hey–we’re getting a pet for him. That ought to make up for some of it, right? (More info on the pet to come in the days ahead. Not a dog. Or a cat. Or a hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, rabbit, fish–in fact, if I haven’t told you what he’s getting already, I’m willing to bet there’s no way you can guess it. He’s very excited.)

It’s a fine line to walk–doing things to make your children feel special and loved, but not making them feel like they’re the end all be all of existence. (Because TRC and DC can both get to acting that way from time to time.) There are all sorts of other tight ropes to walk. Challenging them to grow, but still emphasizing that they’re good and worthwhile as they are. (TRC told me the other day offhandedly, “It’s not like I’m the kind of kid who gets A+’s all the time, Dad.” And I wanted to agree and disagree with him at the same time. He shouldn’t feel like he fails if he doesn’t, but he’s a really bright kid–and he can definitely do well in school. I ended up saying nothing.)

There are no do-overs with kids. You get the ones you get, and the way you raise them is kind of final. I’m constantly evaluating choices I make now for both my kids in light of how those choices will affect them down the road. Maybe I overthink it, but then again, I overthink pretty much everything. It’d be a shame to make a mistake with my children, just because I didn’t take the time to think things through. (Especially when I think through what my next Netflix movie should be five times before I finally move one up in the queue.)

In any case, so far, so good. I think both of my kids are awesome, although I realize I’m naturally inclined to think that. TRC ended up rating his birthday day a 9 out of 10, which means I did a pretty good job, in spite of the lack of treasure hunts. What did I end up doing? Letting him choose whatever he wanted to do for the day (other than go to school or not–that part was mandatory). So we ate pizza, watched Mythbusters, played board games, had cake, and watched Beyblades. Life is good, when you’re eight.

Anyway–about out of time for the day–just wanted to wish TRC one more happy birthday.

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