It is impossible to know anything about raising children before you are a parent. I never thought about it before I was in it. I don’t think THAT much about it now. I just try stay in the moment. God will enter the vocabulary in his time. Sleep will come, along with baths and eating and the potty. You set some priorities. I know it is important for Jackson to know Ella Fitzgerald when he hears her voice. I think it is good for him to know the difference between Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits. I want him to be kind to others. I want him to be loving. Whatever that means. How do you teach feelings except by creating a circle of love around him?
I remember so clearly Jackson's very first breath of air when Stephie released him into the world. I remember holding a whole new kind of love. I was amazed that he was born fully asssembled. Astonished he came out with such a full personality. It is four years of small moments. Discussions about darkness becoming light as the earth spins. Mental pictures we developed in our heads. Choruses we sang. Hands we held. Kisses that started and ended the day. Bruises that stung and laughing that made breathing almost impossible.
When Jackson was 2 we saw a video of Coldplay singing , “Viva La Vida” on Jay Leno’s show in Los Angeles. For the chorus, Chris Martin sets it up by yelling out, “sing it so loud they will be able to hear you in New York.” We probably watched that video a thousand times, and sang the song a thousand more. Last week, when we heard Coldplay was going to be on TV, we watched it before going off to school. Jackson sat between Stephie and myself. “Daddy, where are they playing?” “They are on 50th St. in New York” “They are in New York City singing Viva La Vida?” He was just so taken. He face so beautiful. By the time it came to the chorus, Jackson was getting us all fired up and counting down. Tears were streaming so hard down my cheeks, I was glad he had something else to look at. He stood up and sang so loud. I couldn’t stop crying for a long time that day. For a couple of moments I glimpsed the big picture and was just so overwhelmed.
Jackson was dropping me at the train station. “Have a great day today Daddy. What are you doing today?” “Daddy, only take 1 picture, but make sure it is a great one. Then come home and we will race the train.”
When I come home Jackson met me at the train. He came snaking through the throngs of commuters. I heard his voice crying out, “DADDY DADDY!” long before he appeared. We waited for all the commuters to dissappear down the steps. We watched the conductors wave at eachother and dissappear as the doors closed behind them. We listened for the brake to hiss, then the wheels start off slowly as the train left the station. As the trains picked up speed, we started running, hand in hand as fast as we could. We are screaming and running down the platform. The train will usually win, but not always. Sometimes we beat the train.
As we walked back to Stephie, who is holding Asher, Jackson asked me about my day, “What did you learn today Daddy.” I have to learn something new everyday just as he does. That never stops. We then all held each other. Our family. On the empty platform. All together.
When I leave Jackson’s room at night, he asks if I will check on him. As if I need to be asked to check to see if he is sleeping soundly. Each night half asleep I move him over alittle from the edge of the bed. I get his body covered and make sure he is safe. The real treat is getting to look at him for a moment. That incredible face. That beautiful little boy who is just taking everything in and sending it back into the world in his own way. Our Jackson who is doing what we try to do ourselves every single day, that is, send love out in the world.
Jackson wants to be a airplane pilot for Halloween. When we were in Columbus recently having breakfast at the hotel, 2 pilots sat down at the table next to us. “Daddy…DADDY!” he whispered, “can we talk to the pilots?” Sure Jackson. So he started telling them he was going to be a pilot for Halloween, and all about our flight to Columbus. Next thing they were showing him pictures of the planes they fly and talking about being a pilot. At the end of breakfast when they got up to go, Jackson yelled out, “Now that you know my name you will never forget me.” The pilots left laughing. The whole breakfast room was looking at Jackson, and laughing, too. Jackson really likes when people laugh at him. He doesn’t quite understand what is so funny to other people, but he knows, somewhere deep inside that sharing happiness is his gift.
Happy Birthday Jackson. Age 4. We love you so much.