Stonewall turned sixteen this year. About 4 months after that, we went on our annual trip to the Chicago area. Over two weekends towards the end of August, I work an event there and Stonewall works a photography booth for the event. It has always been a great time and I know that he looks forward to it every year. This year was our last year to go as this was also my final event working for my current employer.
I didn’t get all sentimental and such, but I really tried to embrace and take in the time that we spent together for this final trip. We didn’t do too much other than hang out in the hotel room, see some movies, hang out at a mall, and attend a White Sox game. We ate sushi and fought over whose turn it was to do laundry. Not at the same time, I just remembered those two extra items and wanted to make sure to include them.
We also spent some time at an arcade where we dropped a bunch of money into video games. Most of which were team shooting ones like Jurassic Park or some zombie house shoot ‘em up game.
It was at this arcade in the middle of a game of pool that a thought really hit me. While my son is a well-behaved kid and a very hard worker, I realized that he is still a kid.
That didn’t sound right.
Although I would consider that he has a mature mind about things, he is still a child.
Didn’t sound much better!
I guess I’m just miserably failing to say that I often forget that my son just turned sixteen. I don’t know what it was about our pool game, but I think it was his naivete about how to play pool. I know that he has played many times before at church or at some other youthful gathering. It’s not that he’s a particularly poor pool player. For some reason, the fact that he is still a young man with so much to learn and experience really flooded my thoughts at that point in time.
Stonewall is such a huge help at home. He has so many responsibilities and handles his eldest duties with the best smile he can muster.
I find myself struggling to keep in mind that I am his dad first. We can be friends and have our little inside jokes (which his mother hates), but in the end, I have to remain strong to encourage him and be the example for the kind of man that he needs to be.
We had a few very deep and personal conversations on this trip as I really want to continue to know him and how he thinks. We’ll listen to the news and I would pick his brain to see what his worldview is. I refrain from making comments and sharing my thoughts to avoid skewing our discussions. I’ve been surprised at how connected he is to world events. He may not know names and full details of everything going on, but it was nice to know that he had some awareness of the world beyond our front door.
Many people have commented to me regarding Stonewall’s work ethic and his eagerness to serve others. These things make a dad very happy, but through delving deeper with him I have learned that these actions are from his heart and are not just a show for others. I don’t mean to make it sound like he is perfect, but that it is these types of aspects of him that it easy to overlook his youth and where he truly is in his life.
I hate to think that while he is home schooled and my wife and I are able to be a part of his life every day throughout the day, he is now reaching a point that somethings are harder for him to discuss with us. I have found that he opens up a lot more to just me, but I think that’s just a guy thing. He understands that my direction and advice will always come from the part of me that is his father. His friend part of me will always be there to laugh at our inside jokes or teach him the ways of the movie quote conversation game that he so admires in me and my brother.
I know that as he grows from here, he will face challenges and issues that will come up. While I remain steadily by him ready to be there when he needs me, I also realize that he is at the point to get out and experience things a little on his own. Like any parent, this scares the blazes out of me, but if the conversations I have had with him so far are any indication of his direction, I feel pretty good about it.