It appears that I must now plan family outings comprised of walks that continuously cross major intersections.
My eight-year-old son has started dropping my hand when his buddies or older kids are around.
I knew the time was coming, but it still leaves a fist-sized hole in my heart. This simple, automatic gesture- holding my hand- held so much more than just a hand. For him, it probably meant faith, trust, safety, comfort… for me it was all those things and more. If I’m honest it made me feel necessary and loved even on days when I had proven to the world that I didn’t deserve to feel either of those things. It was redemption; unconditional acceptance regardless of whether I walked on the dark or light side of the force. I knew, even when he was learning to walk, that it was more than just a necessary habit keeping him upright; his five perfect, tiny fingers wrapped around one of mine.
A blink later and he was seven and I became aware that it was not just precious but also, sadly, fleeting; this gesture of unquestionable faith in Dad. To him it was still automatic, and without thought. But to me it became, thank you for letting me hold this boy’s hand for just one more day.
And now, I know this little ritual is running on fumes. It is NOT happening at school. No way Dad. It’s not happening at soccer practice. It’s not even happening at Target if any human between the ages of eight and eighteen enters his field of view. So I do what any sane parent would do. I’ve begun to do what’s called for. I’ve resorted to abusing situations where it is necessary for safety’s sake. I may get a, “Daaaaad, how many things can you forget in your car?!?”
But Son, if it means we have to cross that busy intersection hand-in-hand just one more time, you’d be surprised at how many things I can forget.
But I’ll never, ever forget how special it has been to hold your hand.