My son was dressed to perform in his jazz band concert, ready to leave a few minutes after I got home from work. He greeted me at the door with a tie in his hand and needed my help with it. I was happy to see his choice in clothing, nice light khaki pants with a cornflower blue button down shirt. He had selected an old tie of mine to go with the shirt and pants.
I didn’t realize it until Mir asked if I have a pair of dress shoes for Nate to wear. I came down with an old pair of black dress shoes and watched Nate try them on – he was wearing one of my shirts. I am already used to the fact my 13 year old boy wears the same size shoe as I do. But my shirt size? It fit him so well that I had just assumed Mir had bought a shirt for Nate to wear.
The kid is big enough to wear my shirts. Oh… carp.
That can not be right. He is 13. Eighth grade. Almost three years before he is asking for the keys to the car. I am still a full 2-3 inches taller yet. Dang. He is going to be looking down on me before I know it. I am going to wake up tomorrow with a boy who is taller than I am.
Really I don’t know what significance that brings to me.
It means different things to each father. Some guys think it means that if a boy looks down on him physically, then the father is no longer the boss. To me, it never has been important to be the “boss”. I have been more concerned about being the example, which means I have fallen more than I care to admit. Rules have never been something I have been willing to make a huge deal about, a flaw of sorts that shows when I do want to discipline and define expectations of my son.
I am ready to see my boy take on the responsibilities that becoming a man necessitates. With his height comes the expectation that he will no longer act like a boy, more and more he will be expected to show maturity. That is tough. I know. I am past fifty and I often don’t live up to those expectations. Peter Pan has nothing on me. I’m a lost boy. And my son has always seemed to feel those expectations, a boy always a bit bigger and stronger, and I have watched him shrink more than once under the weight.
And so I worry. He’s not ready yet.
But he’s getting there, more than I give him credit. The picture that goes with this blog is one example. Nate is really jamming, isn’t he? He did well playing that solo. And the high school musicians really accepted my eight grade son, because he is good. Real good. When Nate became disenchanted with the lackluster group of musicians in the middle school jazz band, he started asking if he could move up to the high school band instead. My feeling was that he was being a bit of a prima donna, looking down on his peers, a snot. But in reality he wanted a challenge, knew he was up to it. And he was. He was ready. It showed.. because he stood out even among the older more experienced musicians at the high school at the jazz band concert. I was more than a proud parent. I was truly impressed.
“When the middle school band director offered to loan me a sax player, I took him up on it, thinking I would at least get an instrument to fill out the band’s sound – but this kid can play.”
That is what the high school band director said at the concert last Wednesday night. I wasn’t the only one impressed.
Nate is already filling out my shirts, at thirteen years old. And he is showing he is able to set his own expectations and meet them, if this is proof of that. Oh, he has a lot of growing up to do, but maybe just maybe he is ready to start doing that.
I can only hope. I can only look at that boy who will soon be looking down on me and see the potential.. and let him try.