Monday, 5 January 2015

2014..--->...2015 Of Monsters and men




We've turned the page from 2014 to 2015.  An old year is over, and a new one is now five days old.  

Right now, it's not at all clear what it will bring.  What new experiences.  The end of what old ones.  Of course, there are some things certain to come.  I will write the wrong year (2014) on at least one contract, cheque, or other public document.  All of us will be a year older at some point - well; some of us won't of course make our next birthday.  No one knows who just yet.  There will be a cartoon version of Le Petit Prince.  That is, unless Kim Jong Un reckons that the title is an insult, in which case Paramount Pictures will perhaps be the next target of cyber-attacks.

My little boy will turn 10 in August - a fact that I find hard to accept.

Ten years old.  My, how time flies.

I remember turning 10 pretty clearly, though it's now (almost) three and a half decades passed.  A double-digit number.  I felt pretty grown-up then, though obviously, not really.  

Was talking about it over dinner one night during the Christmas holidays with him - once you acquire a two-digit age, there is no going back.  Of course, in life, there is no going back no matter the age - only relentless progression.  

One goes once from one to two digits, and then (for a very lucky few) from two to three.

Our little boy was a bit apprehensive at the prospect - he seems in no hurry to grow up, something he does not share with a much younger me.  Of course, we encourage him to stay small as long as he can, ultimately, a hopeless hope.

Over Christmas, my kid brother (himself now 41 years old) celebrated the first Christmas in the life of his baby son, born in June of 2014.  We live on the far-side of the Atlantic Ocean, and must rely on on-line photos these days, but he posted several.  James's son's birthday is separated from ours on the calendar by almost exactly two months (10th June versus 11th August), so the pictures of his little boy's first Christmas are not dis-similar to those of our own.

By the Christmas tree in a onesie.  Ringing in the new year.  

When your kids are really young, their world is pretty small.  Many experiences are new, and the world is full of potential.  Almost limitless potential.  But much like the turn of the calendar from one year to the next, much of life is predictable.  Some of it is even deterministic.  A baby reminds us of the possibilities; re-inforces the illusion that something exciting and un-known could be just around the next corner or in the next page of the calendar.

As an aside, there was last year a fantastic movie called "Boyhood," which tracked (in real time) twelve years in the life of a little boy, from beginning in school at age six until he is off to college at 18.  It was a tour de force that allows you to watch a life evolve over the course of two hours.

One of the gifts we gave our son Alastair was a Lego toy - in fact, a Star Wars ship.  The thing must have between two and five-thousand tiny plastic pieces.  He and I have been putting it together, little by little.  It's not his first Lego, so we've been down this road before.  

This year, he is doing most of the work, and I am doing most of the watching.  This is different from the past.

Another reminder of the inscrutable passage of time.

When he was six months old, six years old, his mother and I were nearly omniscient, omnipotent beings in his little world.  When asking me questions, at that point, I almost always knew the answer, and he seemed quite disappointed - upset in some cases - when I had to confess that I did not know the explanation, or a challenge arose that I could not 'fix.'  When you're six, most such situations revolve around being able to lift something a child cannot, or reach high onto a shelf to get something impossibly out of reach.

At 9 going on 10, there are now many, many questions he asks that I haven't the answer for, and challenges that I haven't the solution to.  And, perhaps as a sign of growing maturity, he now shrugs it off when I cannot fix or answer.  The illusion that daddy really knows everything and can do anything is gone.

For James and his son, that world still exists.  It won't last forever, and I miss it.

The Lego ship will take some more time to put together, but the ability to fix all of the problems of my son's world is something that cannot be found in a little, pictorial instruction booklet printed in Denmark.


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