Saturday, November 12, 2011
I love being...Jacob's father
We go through life with a series of titles, which normally point to our relationship to people that we are tethered to in the mind of someone else. So, to you, I may be Phil's friend or George's boss or your former employee. But there are a few titles that I wear as a badge of honor. Over the few weeks to begin November I am writing about some, which are major identifiers to me. Today, I am writing about my first born and only son, Jacob.
Jacob Benjamin was an unexpected blessing to me. We were married for six years before we had any children, and while I don't like to admit it, I really had, in many ways, sorta accepted the fact that we may never have children. But when we realized we were going to be blessed with a child, Jacob brought me inescapable joy. There is something to the feeling of having your first child that is just a little different than all the others. Jacob was our first. And shortly after he was born, I found out that he was a boy, which really excited me. As an aside, I really believe not knowing what gender the child is until after the child is born is special. I know I would have been so excited either way, but you just feel so blessed.
Seconds after his birth, Jacob smiled and Kelly and I both noticed that his dimpled smile was virtually identical to mine. People talk about living vicariously through their children, and I really could easily see how that was the case. I've done some things in my life that I am OK with, but so many things I would like to improve, and I think Jacob could do better than me at all of them. While that is the case, I attempt very hard to not force him to like or do the things I like and do. I let him choose a different favorite sport and different favorite teams and individuals in the sports in which I had favorites. But the funny thing is that Jacob has never been one to choose a team and contradict me just to do so. He encourages me in the cheering of my teams, but then he persuades me that his choices are better. He's made me change!
And this is really how Jacob is. I walk in a room and within seconds almost everyone knows that I am there. I'm loud, boisterous, and want everyone to like me. Jacob walks in quietly, speaks with people, doesn't care if they like him because he's always real, and then walks out as the most popular guy in the room. Jacob is so good at getting people to like him, that I find myself taking notes (Me, of three and a half college degrees) and trying to duplicate what he's doing. The thing is Jacob is very content to be himself. When some kids attempt to pick on him, he doesn't sink to their level and join the fray. He merely shrugs it off, says they need to learn to be better people, and continues to work on the aspect of which he was teased. If only I could live like that!
The thing is that Jacob is so accomplished in some areas. He made the highest honor roll on his first report card he ever got while in school. He's the most knowledgeable NASCAR fan I've ever met. He has written several short stories, facfictions, and alternative universe settings, that I wish we could have found a way to get them all written down and saved. He's in his third year of Bible Quizzing and is clearly the best quizzer this year (and has been first team all FQA previously). Yet, he's more excited to tell you about other guys on his team who got one question. He's the consummate team guy.
Jacob is the boy who will grow up, but when we parents want to hold on to meaningless things that kids can grow out of, he never hesitates to continue them. For example, while he is perfectly capable of walking from the car to church on his own and he will certainly do so when given the opportunity, he is also quite content to let his mom or dad hold his hand. He'll let me pat his head. He'll let his mom clean his face. When I do the embarrassing dad thing, he never says anything to me publicly or in a way to hurt my feelings. He's mature enough to act like an adult, but kind enough to act like a kid.
I've learned so much from Jacob in these few years I've been blessed with him that I struggle to talk about it without short-selling him or going completely over the word limit. But the thing I like is that he is the ideal first child. He actually chooses to sit next to his old dad on the bus in lieu of sitting with his friends, who have to be more fun. He tells his sister that he loves her on the way out the door in the morning. He asks me how he can be a better example for his sisters. He is already concerned about doing the right thing to the point where he will not like someone as much if they have the wrong attitude about their parents (he still treats them just as well, however). He has never gotten in trouble in school because "he doesn't know why anyone would want to."
In short, Jacob lives in such a way that he makes me want to do better. He respects my opinion to the point where I feel like my opinion needs to be well thought out, because I don't want to lead this sweet boy astray. When he asks for something, he understands in a way I don't think children should, how economics affect ability to do things. I see Jacob as being better than I was as a child in so many ways, but they weren't the ways I would have thought. He's better than me behaviorally, socially, academically, and thoughtfully. He's a great young man. And when we walk around, people say we look alike and he must be my son. That makes me very happy, because I am exceedingly proud to be known as Jacob's Father!