September 23, 2016 by Ray Yanek
For some reason, I remembered this morning that my son used to have that small, Michael Strahan gap between his front baby-teeth. That gap is no longer there. It’s been gone for awhile.
Yesterday was my son’s birthday. He’s twelve now and sometimes I hardly recognize him.
His hair used to get long and thick. Later, for awhile, especially in the summer, my wife would buzz his hair. I don’t think he ever really cared what his hair was like. Now though, he keeps the sides cut short, but the top long. He uses gel to sweep it to the side so that it looks like a blond wave rolling onto the beach. He is constantly, unconsciously now I think, adjusting it, fixing it, reshaping it. I’ve caught him stealing my deodorant too sometimes, and he has an aerosol body spray– the scent is called Midnight Chocolate or something like that.
He’s tall too, almost as tall as his fifteen year old sister. He’s lean and lanky like a swimmer and he runs fast. He glides up and down the soccer field and has these bursts of speed that still amaze me. He’s cerebral on the field too. He knows where his teammates are; he sees passing lanes, and he never hesitates to dish off the ball.
We’ve gotten compliments from other parents about the way he takes care of the other, younger kids on the team. He’s the field general, they say, always making sure his teammates are in the right spots, but he’s kind about it, not mean. He’s supportive and positive.
He recently broke his wrist, his first broken bone, and his city league soccer coach was bummed. “We see him as our captain,” he told us.
I’m proud of him for that, for his kindness, for his leadership.
We received a doctor’s release and some foam wrap for the cast, and he’s dying to get back out there and play.
My son likes to stay active.
But he also knows how to relax. He’ll relax on the couch and binge watch shows like iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, and Gravity Falls. At night, when I’m in the kitchen watching something while cooking supper, my viewing is inevitably interrupted by the need for our DVR to record yet another Full House re-run.
Even though I truly believe you can, indeed, have too much Bob Saget, I generally let the recording go and find something else to watch on the DVR.
For Christmas, grandma got him this monstrous, overstuffed bean bag. He sets it up in front of the TV, fires up his Playstation, slips on the headphones and mic, and plays Call of Duty with a group of his friends. The area becomes his mini-man cave, littered with empty water bottles, fruit snack wrappers, Pringles cans, and assorted other goodie wrappers. I get annoyed at the mess sometimes, but most of the time I think a part of me gets annoyed because I wish I had that sort of thing when I was a kid.
Sometimes too, watching him kicked back and relaxed, yelling into the microphone for his buddies to watch that sniper, I get a little sad.
He and I used to play those games together. A lot. Not so much anymore. He’s nice about it, but I know he would rather play with his friends.
But like I said, I’m happy that he has what he has and,anymore ,just watching him becomes enough.
And knowing he’s there.
Happy Birthday, buddy.