I became a father for the first time on this day in 1983.
It was a little more than seven months after walking across the stage and being handed my high school diploma. Except the padded maroon holder we all received was empty. We were a day short of the state requirements and would have to return for one more day if we wanted to fill it with a document.
I know of one classmate from that group with a son who is slightly older than mine. There could be others but I’m thinking I’m top five in that category.
And damn if I didn’t grow up in a hurry. I went from stocking shelves at Washington Discount to cleaning a paint factory in Avon.
I went from playing hockey on Pine Lake and Atari football to inhaling toxic fumes and working with some of the biggest drug users I’d ever been around.
One fond memory is of using my parent’s house for a New Year’s Eve Party. I found one coworker searching my parent’s bedroom for a razor blade. He was so high he barely understood my pleas for him to go back down to the party. He was the last to leave. I tried to fight him for his keys. He got away. He was stopped in front of the Police Department on the way home and couldn’t drive for a year. Back at work, I took the blame. They had fed him his drug, and I was vilified.
Another party took place at a coworker’s home. It was a get together to watch a boxing match. We all had that passion in common. The house was kind of bare. I noticed a nice family portrait on the wall. Two young kids and the mom and dad. An hour later the portrait was missing. I saw it later in the next room as dad and others were snorting lines of cocaine off it with a rolled up dollar bill. I said, “No thanks.” If my heart is going to explode I’d rather have my family point to a Big Mac as the culprit.
I’d gone all through high school without using drugs. I was the outcast among my friends because of it. I stayed off to the side. A lot of them are pretty screwed up now. I hated a lot of them. Some were bullies. Some were phonies. Some kids from high school who I never even talked to are among my favorite people now.
Maybe some don’t remember that they were jerks back then. I bet a lot of them do and have put it behind them. That’s cool. I found a person who was relentless as far as bullying me. I doubt that he’s forgotten.
I’d love to hear an apology. I know, I know – it was a long time ago but we teach our kids about bullying at a very young age. They know it’s wrong. And yes, I’ve moved on. But some things are not meant to be forgotten. They have all contributed to who we are today.
My goal as a father has always been to spend as much time as possible with my children. They were my safe house.
And that’s how it was with my very first born. My favorite memories with him were running around the baseball field in Orleans, MA and kicking a ball back and forth. We’ve done a thousand things together but for some reason I’m transported to my happy place with that one. And then we’d walk to the playground afterwards and chase each other around.
He was the first to meet the Daddy Monster. That was me with a blanket over my head. I’d be on my knees crawling towards him repeating,” I’m the Daddy Monster and I’m going to get you.” The second child in line will remember that as well.
Kissy-kissy time was great too. I’d pin him on his back and kiss his face until he was so tired from laughing and asking me to stop that he’d take a nice long nap.
My first child. My oldest son. It’s his 30th birthday today. I hope he learned a bit about being a man from me. I hope he remembers when he was the kid that could make me feel normal by sitting on my lap and watching Thundercats.
There might be two feet of snow between us today but I hope he knows he’s on my mind. Not only today but every single one of them since I first held him.