If my son’s personality was an animal, it would be a peacock. The brightest colors, the boldest walk (or run in his case), and fearless of his surroundings. I haven’t quite figured out yet if that’s just bc he’s young and doesn’t know any better, or if that’s “just him.” Time will tell us that answer I suppose. But his amazing zest for life seems to shine in everything he does now. And his mother and I of course love seeing him grow with that big personality, but what I never realized was how it would affect us as his parents. And I had to take a step back recently to really understand it.
My wife and son do what I call the “park tour”. Being at home with him so much and in Southern California, they enjoy going to a new park almost every day. I join the “tour” most weekends when I’m off work. And if you ask him, it’s probably one of his favorite things to do. What I find most amazing is how my son never goes to a park and leaves without making a new friend. It’s a strange phenomenon to me, but it’s as though he’s never met a stranger. A beautiful innocence that I’ll hate to see leave him one day. And it makes me wonder at what point growing up we lose that blind faith in human goodness?
I’ve figured out my son’s pattern. It’s pretty simple really. The first kid he sees running through the playground is his new best friend. And the chase game ensues. What can I say other than I should have named him Forest for as much as he loves to run. So naturally if he can find another kid, no matter the age, to join in on his toddler Olympic sprints, then that bond is instantly formed. What this also does almost instantly is make the parent of his new “best friend” strike up a conversation with me. Sort of a forced but usually welcomed parental interaction. I’ll be honest though, it took me a bit to get used to this. And I don’t know if that’s bc my social world has gotten smaller since moving to LA or if I’m just not as social as I once was. Sort of an odd realization for someone who relies on networking for their career. But the result is, it’s actually changing me.
Conversation by conversation I feel this small tide starting to roll. I’m coming out of a shell I never knew I was in. And it’s just so strange to think that bc my son is so fearless of the world, in turn its making me less fearful of the world as well. But I think that’s exactly what’s happening. One conversation at a time.
I’m not arrogant enough to think having a child wouldn’t change me. Of course it has, and in obvious ways. And I think if you’re not changed by having a kid, well, you got some stuff to figure out. But I just never expected to change in the way he’s shaping me. It’s this beautiful exchange between him and I where I help teach him how to navigate the treacherous world and he teaches me how not to fear its treachery. To me its like being a part of some sort of ancient tribal dance around a fire where there's this magical but dangerous beauty. You can be enchanted by it as you move in slow motion. But if you're not careful you can still fall into the fire. And I’m guessing by the end of it we end up somewhere in the middle, hopefully unharmed, and hopefully unjaded.
So it brought me to this wonderfully simple thought this week. Find someone who will run with you. Endlessly. Tirelessly. My wife and son are my running mates. Blind faith in each other. An open book of love for each other. That’s how it’s meant to be I think, but on a larger scale.
I know the world seems grim as of late, but if we can simply get the courage to shine a light into the sky every day I think we’ll leave this place in better shape than we found it. It might be a hopeless romanticism that I indulge in, but life is a better place having that hope I assure you.
Thank you for reading.