‘Seven’ was a lost year. Between cities, between, schools, between parents…the school picture with the crazy brown-blonde curls and the velour white shirt with the big collar circa 1976 has been on the refrigerator as long as I can remember in my adult life but the truth is as much as I love the picture I can’t recall where we lived in the chaos of my youth when the picture was taken.
Aside: For any of you parents out there in or considering divorce, that is where your child will be…lost. I’m not arguing there isn’t a time and place and my own parents certainly had theirs, but when we peel away the layers of reason and emotional and sometimes physical toil, the remains of the day are little lives that are forever scarred with the loss of innocence and the dream that their family is one. But that was my little world, not his.
Why now? Why ‘seven’? Because my son is seven….just! He is one of the lucky ones who has his birthday on summer holidays and while any day of the week is play-day for two months with one of us home with the kids each and every day, this year his birthday fell on a Saturday and I spent the day with 12 pirates hunting treasure, clashing swords and pinning eye patches on buccaneers. What a day! (Not to mention he and I have been reading the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, “Treasure Island”, at bedtime on and off for a month or so…argggh!)
On the outside, it may not seem like much of a number, seven…a forward slash under an inconspicuous horizontal line. Some people even draw a line across it sometimes to make it look important, or French, or something? I don’t know why they do that actually? Some…many…think it’s lucky. Some name their kids ‘Seven’, at least according to George on the Jerry Seinfeld re-run channel, and others, well, they could likely care less. You know those people who don’t have kids yet who just don’t get this stuff? Well, to them, it’s just another number and those are the noisy brats who don’t know when to be quiet and worst of all, “my parents never let me behave like that when I was their age…” Blah, blah, blah… if you’re one of them, like they say in West Side Story, “You was never my age”, or better yet, since this is the new millenium, like my son likes to tell his Sensei at Kishindo, “I am in charge of my own body.”
Meanwhile…my son can read now and he can do it well enough to sound out pretty much anything he has a mind to. “Dad, what is…” He can hit a tennis ball. He can ride a bike with gears. He can play mini-golf as long as he’s interested. He can shoot a basketball – and dribble better than many Jr High kids I’ve seen. He skateboards goofy-foot like dad on the deck Tony Hawk sent him last year at Christmas (true…long story)…and he is this summer on the verge of conquering one of his greatest challenges in life, swimming. Face in, bubbles, jump in, swim with lifejacket…next step, going under. So proud…and if you are wondering when I’m going to stop, those are just all of the things we did together today.
…and when I look in his pale blue eyes I see myself in 1976, with those same curls, in a happier place.
Seven. That’s my boy.