Let me do a little bit of a time stamp. It's about 5am. I just had a nightmare. There were missiles and rogue elements and I was the aid to some kind of politician. He'd said that someone would get our bags from these catacombs from which we'd just ascended, but they did not. I ran back to get them and, while underground, big sliding doors started to close. Indiana Jones style these huge sheets of rock scoot shut and I'm barely squeezing through the narrowing slots to freedom. I emerge with the bags and my life but the convoy of black SUVs has left me behind.
I pop up out of bed. What did that mean? Immediately I take it as running out of time to do something. I need to act on the things that I really need to do. One of them is write about my son going into middle school. Nothing special. A benchmark. An attempt at halting time, if I'm to be honest.
Here we are in this moment. You're sleeping. Otto's out. Your sister has chosen to ball up on the floor outside of her room. I left your mom behind in bed and the dogs are too tired to care that I've strayed. I got home from a comedy gig at about 11:30. I had a couple of beers while half conversing and half thinking about getting all of you to school tomorrow. It's on again. The rush to pack lunches and get out the door. I can't tell if you're keeping me young or making me old.
Your locker works. The school was going to put off fixing it until your first day. That meant, as you said, you'd be the smallest kid in school and not be able to get into your locker. Everybody got nervous. You'd handle it, I told myself while I tried to work, but why should you have to? Mom got it. She momma beared a passing maintenance guy and you're ready. Which is a valuable lesson, I think. It's never the big things.
So you're less sizeable than all of the middle school? Good. You have to use your head. That whip-smart wit cracking the big guys while they count on their size. Don't ever capitulate to pituitarily enhanced. You wouldn't even have had to go to karate three days a week for the past 8 months. You just be you and slide through the doors. Get past where others can't. This isn't a physical challenge, but a tribute to your true size. The little guy who can be bigger than anyone when he uses his advantage: the wiser-than-expected perspective of a dude who's had to work harder to get things.
Remember what I asked you outside of Home Depot?
"Quin," I stomped to you in dad seriousness. "Do you want me to correct everyone who thinks you're a girl or not?"
You said you didn't care. I hit you with the query again. You were still resolved in not caring. And then I asked you why you grew your hair long. You said you didn't know. You just liked it.
That's big. Bigger than anyone else I know. I mean I shave my head just avoid the "clowning" that takes place when the sides grow but the top does not. And here you are ahead of the curve. Not giving any damns.
I know you do. I see you spacing out when I ask you about moving up the academic ladder. But I want you to remember my awe. A grown man's teary-eyed smile as he sees his guy stroll confidently through the years. Yeah, I know we probably shouldn't have shoved you in kindergarten when you were four, but damn those daycare savings are great. Besides, who said you were ready?
You did. At four. You told us you wanted to go. And if it were up to me I'd never let you go anywhere. You should still be screaming in my arms as I spell your mother in the misadventure of trying to get an angry baby to sleep. I remember time stamping then. I remember looking out into the black of your bedroom window and wondering if an older me was looking in. It's gonna pass. And you'll be sad it did.
Now I've got to fight the urge to tail you to sixth grade. I want to hide in a tree and drug dart bullies. I want to make sure you're never once unsure in the squares of brick and tile and convention. But I can't. And I haven't had to. Because you're good, man. You're good.