Thursday, January 29, 2015


My twelve-year-old is growing his hair out again. Both boys go through this periodically; part of it is, I think, a desire to be like the other boys in school who have long hair. Another part of it is, I'm sure, laziness. They just don't want to be bothered getting a haircut. Usually, it gets so long that they can't manage to make it look "right" or it's still wet when they have to go out into the cold to catch the bus. That's when they'll concede that maybe it's time for a trim.

Because he is still young and fresh-faced, when Ben's hair gets long, all of my friends (who knew me as a child) say, "he could be your clone!" or "oh wow, no mistaking whose kid he is!". This week, I'm getting that a lot. And I don't mind at all because, as I say, he is young and fresh-faced, two attributes none of us fully appreciate until we lose them. When I look at Ben, I see my younger self.

Today, going through some old pictures, I found a photo of Ben with long hair from another grow-out period. But for the first time, I tried to picture him with facial hair. And I kinda hated it. Not because it made me recall my East-European roots, the ones that vexed me as a teenager because I was hairier than my brother. I hated it because for a moment, I was forcing myself to fast-forward to a time when he will no longer be my sweet, cuddly baby, the one with porcelain skin and pink cheeks. And that time is not so far off.

I also realized that I do not always appreciate the beauty and wonder of youth that my kids are, fleetingly, wrapped in right now. Like my own early years, theirs will be gone very soon. Before I know it, they will move away and begin their own lives and I will be left with pictures and regret as I shake my head and wonder where it all went. This line of thinking also forced me to consider that if they're getting older, it means I am too.

None of us like to consider our own mortality, and seeing my childhood self in my kids makes it easy to keep feeling young. But as much as I want to help my kids discover and realize their dreams, I am reminded today that it's also important to strive toward achieving my own. After all, I've got a lot less time to work on it than my kids do. So often, I think, "when the kids are grown in a few years, I'll really be able to get a lot of writing done," or "when they move out, then I can really focus on my goals." But who says I'll still be able and inspired by then? Just as anything is possible for my kids' futures, the same is true for my own, though not in that carefree, ready-to-take-the-world-by-storm way.

While it's an easy excuse to dream about a day down the road when I'll have all the time in the world, before I know it, that time will be here. I can, and plan to, get a lot of writing done between now and then. Besides, if there's any justice in the world, when that time does arrive, it will be split between writing and playing with grandchildren. Fresh-faced, beautiful grandchildren who look a lot like my sons.

Just not for at least ten years, I hope.

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