I Love You, Son

I Love You, Son

From Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition

I Love You, Son

Kids spell love T-I-M-E.

~John Crudele

Thoughts while driving my son to school: Morning, Kid. You look pretty sharp in your Cub Scout gear, not as fat as your old man when he was a Cub. I don’t think my hair was ever as long until I went away to college, but I think I’d recognize you anyway by what you are: a little shaggy around the ears, scuffed around the toes, wrinkled in the knees. We get used to one another.

Now that you’re eight I notice I don’t see a whole lot of you anymore. On Columbus Day you left at nine in the morning. I saw you for 42 seconds at lunch and you reappeared for supper at five. I miss you, but I know you’ve got serious business to take care of. Certainly as serious as, if not more important than, the things the other commuters on the road are doing.

You’ve got to grow up and out and that’s more important than clipping coupons, arranging stock options or selling people short. You’ve got to learn what you are able to do and what you aren’t — and you’ve got to learn how to deal with that. You’ve got to learn about people and how they behave when they don’t feel good about themselves — like the bullies who hang out at the bike rack and hassle the smaller kids. Yeah, you’ll even have to learn how to pretend that name-calling doesn’t hurt. It’ll always hurt, but you’ll have to put up a front or they’ll call you worse names next time. I only hope you remember how it feels — in case you ever decide to rank a kid who’s smaller than you.

When was the last time I told you I was proud of you? I guess if I can’t remember, I’ve got work to do. I remember the last time I yelled at you — told you we’d be late if you didn’t hurry — but, on balance, as Nixon used to say, I haven’t given you as many pats as yells. For the record, in case you read this, I am proud of you. I especially like your independence, the way you take care of yourself even when it frightens me just a little bit. You’ve never been much of a whiner and that makes you a superior kid in my book.

Why is it that fathers are so slow to realize that eight-year-olds need as many hugs as four-year-olds? If I don’t watch out, pretty soon I’ll be punching you on the arm and saying, “Whaddaya say, kid?!” instead of hugging you and telling you I love you. Life is too short to hide affection. Why is it that eight-year-olds are so slow to realize that 36-year-olds need as many hugs as four-year-olds?

Did I forget to tell you that I’m proud you went back to a box lunch after one week’s worth of that indigestible hot lunch? I’m glad you value your body.

I wish the drive weren’t so short. I want to talk about last night when your younger brother was asleep and we let you stay up and watch the Yankees game. Those times are so special. There’s no way you can plan them. Every time we try to plan something together, it’s not as good or rich or warm. For a few all-too-short minutes it was as if you’d already grown up and we sat and talked without any words about “How are you doing in school, son?” I’d already checked your math homework the only way I could — with a calculator.

You’re better with numbers than I’ll ever be. So, we talked about the game and you knew more about the players than I did and I learned from you. And we were both happy when the Yankees won.

Well, there’s the crossing guard. He’ll probably outlive all of us. I wish you didn’t have to go to school today. There are so many things I want to say.

Your exit from my car is so quick. I want to savor the moment and you’ve already spotted a couple of your friends.

I just wanted to say “I love you, son.”

~Victor B. Miller

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