Sunday, October 21, 2007

"JUST LIKE ME" - October 13, 2007

“Hey, Mom,” my son said, while rocking softly in the glider in his living room, “do you still hope I’ll have a kid ‘just like' me?” I gave him my Mona Lisa smile as I let this question sink in. In a split second, I time-traveled twenty-seven years back to the family room of our first house:

“Just put this one last block in the basket – just this one,” the fatigued and frustrated father said. The blond-haired two-year-old, sitting on the floor next to him, contemplated the one remaining brightly colored Fisher-Price block. Glancing at his father sideways out of the corners of his vivid blue eyes, he heaved the block across the family room where it bounced off the paneled wall and tumbled to the floor. The obstinate, PJ-clad toddler and the twenty-something, highly educated, professional-by-day father had been locked in this scrimmage for control for at least an eternal half-hour.

“Why can’t he just obey? Why won’t he put one lousy block in the stupid toy basket, for Pete’s sake!” my frazzled hubby exclaimed to me later that evening. Upstairs, his worthy opponent lay sleeping, secured for the night, the epitome of innocence and sweetness, his wiry arms enfolding, and his sweaty, rosy cheek resting on, his beloved stuffed monkey. Suppressing a smile, I pondered silently how alike father and son are in so many ways, including their “tenacity.”

“He’s so unbelievably stubborn!” Rex proclaimed as he fell into his recliner, his energy spent, his spirit sagging. How is it possible, he wondered, for a mature adult capable of abstract thinking, logic, and other sophisticated intellectual skills to be bested by a mere child who thinks concretely and can’t tell the difference between make-believe and reality? We both sighed deeply and turned our waning attention to the TV. My sigh was one of relief, so, so glad that it wasn’t my night for bedtime duty!

Returning from my reverie, I contemplated my son and his question. For years, we’ve teased Matt—in moments of his obstinacy—that we hope he has a child “just like” him. There are other qualities that we’ve jokingly wished upon his progeny, like his proclivity for climbing and his love for disappearing into clothes racks while shopping, all the while scaring his mother to death. His favorite Sesame Street character was Ernie—which should give you a glimmer of his lively personality.

So, do I wish that Matt has a kid just like him? Be careful now, Mom. This is a million dollar question. Do I want to call a friend or poll the audience? Nope. I’m on my own here. What’s my final answer? What makes this such a tricky question is that cradled in my son’s arms as he rocks, is his very own newborn son, Evan. (Late, breaking news flash: I interrupt this article to announce that I am a GRANDMA! Evan Jason Teeple was born at 7:35 p.m. on September 28, weighing in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches.)

Oh, yes! I do most definitely hope that Evan is a chip off the old block, but in oh so many more ways than I meant when I have teased Matt in the past. Matthew (his name means “Gift of God”), this precious, precocious boy of mine, has grown into a fine man. I love him dearly and am very proud of the son and husband and father he has become. While I do hope that Evan will give Matt a taste of what it was like to raise him (so that Matt will deeply appreciate our heroic, parenting efforts all the more, and hopefully take care of us in our old age), I hope that, amid the challenges, he will enjoy this little guy as much as we have enjoyed raising him.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Psalm 127:3 KJV

By the way, the name Evan is the Welsh form of John, a Hebrew name meaning “God is gracious.” I hope my daughter (in-law), Kristy, will keep this in mind in those moments when Evan causes her to utter, “You are just like your father!!!”

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