Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On Being A Man

Let me start by saying we had a remarkable Halloween. Aside from the two parades that the kids were in, the spooky-room party at their daycare, and the costume contest - we ended up with an astounding 11 pounds of candy on Wednesday morning (yes, I actually weighed it on my handy dandy kitchen scale). Granted , Twix bars are pretty heavy, but still, since the kids don't really eat that much candy that means I'll be about 10 pounds heavier as I enter the Thanksgiving holiday. Put some braces on your chairs people, cause I'm fixin to break em.
On a completely different note, the boy is getting bigger. Not just in size, but lately he has his own little stockpile of ideas on how the world works - and some of them are set in stone. After our reaction to his eating duck-feces-covered corn, he has very definite opinions on what will get him sick, and often asks us if something will make him sick or tells us that eating dog food (for example) will make people sick. At the moment, he is a bit overboard with the sick thing, but in general he has specific opinions on how life works. Manners, ownership, and even rules of friendship are set, and he follows his own rules and applies them to others. Some of these rules he has are a mystery to me, formed it seems from daycare or conversations with his friends, and some I know he has gotten from us. For the most part he knows what he can, and cannot get away with at home and at school - and occasionally tells me (in amazement or disappointment) stories about things that his friends do.
So lately I've been thinking a bit about growing up, and how I became who I am, for better or worse. I don't remember a heck of a lot about being three, just snippets from our time in Hungary, but nothing really life changing. Lessons were learned like most people, I expect, not picked up at a particular moment but grown into. Morals and ethics worn in over time like a comfortable shoe - there isn't really moment when the leather breaks, but over time everything fits well enough that you don't even notice it's there...
There was a day, though, when I was ten (give or take a few years) and standing on our front porch I heard a spectacular noise... and the next 15 minutes or so are crystal clear in my mind. I hopped down to the sidewalk and saw at the corner a small blue hatchback rolled over onto it's roof, tires still spinning. Inside, a man about 30ish or so was slowly starting to wriggle out of the seatbelt that held him upside down. Across the street, a white-haired woman in a beige clunky Buick was sitting still, holding tightly onto the steering wheel. I remember thinking "wow, an accident... crazy..." and starting to walk toward the cars. I had taken about two steps when my father came out of the house and asked what happened, and I yelled up to the porch that there was an accident and a car had turned over.
Before I knew it he ran past me - and in an instant I was ashamed of myself. By the time I reached the corner he was already helping the man out of the overturned car, and I was already asking myself why I hadn't.
I've thought of it often since then, but recently it has taken on new meaning. These days I wonder when those moments will come for Sam or Lily, and if I'll run when I should, reach my hand out when they haven't learned how to yet. I suppose I'll never know what they'll remember years from now, or what I'll look like in their eyes... what I do know, at the moment, is only what I whisper to them when they go to bed, "Want to hear a secret?" I say every day, "Guess who my favorite Sam (or Lily) is?" and wait till they answer. Hopefully, everything after that will fall into place, and watching them move in the right direction will seem as natural as those perfectly worn in shoes.

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