“Watch me, Daddy. Watch me.” you say.
I turn to watch and immediately you make a silly face with your eyes and mouth. You are being funny and we both laugh at your silliness. After our laugh, I look away to tend to something else but soon enough I hear it again. “Watch me, Daddy. Watch me.”
But what you don’t realize, my son, is that I’m always watching you. And though I watch you every day, I can hardly believe how much you’ve grown up. Too soon, my son. Too, too soon. Yet, over the past few months, I’ve watched the little baby boy that I used to hold so closely to my chest on cold winter mornings leave me with nothing but gentle memories that tickle my consciousness like a warm breeze. Instead of that baby face, so soft and warm, I’ve watched a sweet little boy emerge. A little boy that loves to laugh. A little boy that loves to sing. A little boy that will dance to any music any time. A little boy that wants to be watched by his Daddy.
Yes, I’m watching you, my son. I’m watching you grow up right before my eyes and while part of me wants to desperately cling to the last few grains of sand in the hourglass of your infancy, I can no longer deny that you have become a little boy. A little boy who loves cars. A little boy who loves action heroes. A little boy who loves his Daddy.
Almost as much as his Daddy loves him.
Oh yes, I am watching you, my little boy. And someday, when I least expect it, I’ll look over and you’ll be all grown up. A young man who doesn’t want kisses on the cheek or rides on his Daddy’s back but will be more interested in non-Daddy things.
And that’s the bottom line of this parenting thing, isn’t it? As much as I love this phase of my life, my job is not to raise a child at all. Rather it is to raise a man. One who will be confident and kind and loving. And someday – someday too soon for my taste – I’ll look away for a moment and the little boy who snuggles next to me on the couch watching Curious George won’t be there anymore. He’ll be replaced by a man who has his own children and I’ll have to make due with “remember whens.”
So, yes my son. I’m watching you. I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.