My Dearest Little Matthew,
Quite often an event takes place that can snap pleasant thoughts to negative even before you can explain it to yourself.
That happened to me this morning … twice. First I read that a 24-year-old woman was pumping gas when a car ran into the pumps and killed her. And a drunk driver killed 91-year-old Olympian Jim Shea weeks before he would have watched his grandson compete in the Olympics.
It’s a scary thought to imagine not being here as you grow up. For almost four years I’ve enjoyed you like I never imagined possible. That statement should take nothing away from my immense joy of raising your brothers and sister. Timing is everything and you came along when I was able to enjoy you most.
Last night you told me that you would love me forever and ever. You make me cry inside with delight when you talk so sweetly. When you are tired and tugging at my shirt, I am yours for the evening. When you are cranky and demand that I “unpaint” your room, I love you even more and want to devour your innocence.
We are like milk and cereal! You are my shadow even in the darkness. We have so many memories together already and you still haven’t turned four-years-old yet.
Last week you covered your trains (Thomas, Percy, James, and Edward) with the cinders and ashes we used as fake coal and then a couple of days later, after we had cleaned them up, you drenched them in water.
I told you that the trains were very upset with you and they would vote to decide if they still wanted you as their conductor. One by one I asked each engine to answer YES or NO. Some of the engines turned to you and asked why you would do such a thing. Your reply was “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. I promise.”
Later that night after being voted back in as Mr. Conductor, you approached me with a serious question. You asked, “Daddy, why did so many trains vote NO?”
I answered, “Because you need to be responsible for your actions Matthew — and these trains look to you for protection. You will have to earn their trust again.”
“Daddy, I love you forever and ever. Do you love me even when I’m bad?” Of course I do Matthew. And even someday when I may not be here, I will still love you.
So this is where the time goes. I wrote that note to you two whole years ago. And in the turn of a pedal — you are now almost six years old. Six years old! I am still madly in love with your stubborn and insistent personality.
You are just perfect — a line your Grandma Toby would use, with a smirk, about herself. Imperfection is such a wonderful human trait that we all possess. Don’t ever let anyone demand that you change your individualism. You can modify the way in which you approach problems; how you treat others; how you react to praise or criticism; and even how you perform when there is no significance attached. But never compromise your uniqueness. Be the perfect YOU.
Show compassion in your actions and words. Listen and learn before you react. Offer assistance and assurance when needed. Remember Thomas? He was a very useful engine!
Eight years have gone by. I’d forgotten about this particular journal until I came across it today. I was looking for an idea for a Father’s Day column. I found it.
You’ll enter high school in a couple of months and youth sports will have taken a big, huge, giant step forward.
You’ve changed so much. You are no longer that hardheaded kid who was difficult to coach. You figured out that a team is not about one person. You have realized that coaches want players who can rally their teammates.
This is an age when many young adults decide they don’t need anything from their parents, aside from free food and a place to spend the night. I think most of them regret their choice by the time they are leaving for college.
We still have our bike tour from Maine to Washington, D.C., the summer after graduation. We have the gym where you’ll soon be benching twice my weight. We have school projects that’ll blow our minds. I have front row seats to your teen years as you do for my ride into middle-age.
I hope we experience it all playing for the same team.
To be continued…