Suddenly, You Are Nine

November 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

To My Bright and Handsome Son on Your 9th Birthday,


Please pick up these football cards. They are everywhere in the house and getting more dusty and beat-up every day. I cringe at the mistreatment of those collectibles, upset that my attempts at getting you to organize and care for them go unheeded. I want you to appreciate the items you spend your allowance on but you are a nine-year-old boy and that means you will slowly destroy everything you possess.


Another year has passed and a few things have changed. No longer content with having me decide what we do or how we play, you set the agenda and it’s either sports, video games, or sports video games. Your obsession with the NFL and football in general has become an issue for us. You want so desperately to play and have been nagging me to let you join a team. I keep refusing because I want to have a son who is still physically healthy when he turns 40. For now you need to be content with throwing the football with me in the street and running plays in the backyard. 


One thing we did agree on was baseball and this year was your first exposure to organized games. Thanks to the pandemic, your little league schedule was canceled. However, the organization still offered drop-in practices and you got great value from them. I can see you have a talent for that sport by the way you stand in at the plate; steady, solid, and not afraid to take the big swings. What really impressed me was when I told you to take your time and wait for your pitches, you actually listened. You went from topping the ball to the pitcher with wild Charlie Brown swings to waiting patiently and then sending the ball on a straight line out of the infield.


I believe what really made you want to show up at those practices each week wasn’t to play baseball, it was to be with other kids. You are a very social boy and being away from your school friends is hard for you. You were an All-Star on the soccer field during recess and I can tell you miss that aspect of school. Throwing a ball with Dad can’t replace the chaos and camaraderie of recess life.  


This online school adventure isn’t easy for anyone and I am very proud of how you are handling it. You are bright and smart and a voracious reader. Your math and language skills are well above third grade level. You are attentive in class and your grades show it. If there is anything you don’t understand or have trouble accessing online, you are not afraid to speak up and let the teacher know. I am proud of the level of effort you are putting in to your school work.


Even with all of the changes to our lives that this pandemic has brought, many things remain the same. Your sister is still your best friend even though she sometimes brings you to tears with her manipulations. You are fervent about what you like and have no patience for alternatives. Pizza and root beer. Carrots but not cooked. Rice but not risotto. Toast but no crust. Absolutely no onions. You are content to wear the same pair of shoes until they fall apart. Your socks, when you choose to wear them, never match. 

I know this year has been hard for you; this isolation is tough on a little boy who wants to run and play with others. No one knows when this way of living will no longer be necessary. Please remember that your family loves you even though you cannot be with them right now. They keep you in their hearts and are ready and waiting to see you again. In the meantime, I will fetch us some root beers while you fire up the XBox because it’s your birthday.


Today we celebrate you, my bright and handsome son, for you are nine years old. Your joyful smile is a light that helps me through all of the mess that is our life right now. Thank you for being a loving little brother, a doting father to our kittens, and a very special son. 


Happy Birthday to you, my little Monkey man, my Duncan Philip.

Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Starting a Strange School Year

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