Today is my oldest son, Sean's, 25th birthday and just as I did on #21 and #23, I'm about to embarrass him again. Because I have an audience, Sean and Patrick get to have many of their secrets aired in public.
We had a lot of rocks in Sheffield, where we lived from the time Sean was six months old to the time he was 6. One day, he decided he would collect them, paint them, and sell them.
As with so many of the exploits of my children, I talked about this on the radio one day and when I went to get lunch at the local pizza joint, the owner said he wanted a couple of these well-painted rocks to "sell." So I delivered two of them, and gave Sean $1 each. If you're a parent, you know what this means: It means you're about to get a whole new crop of painted rocks, and a heightened expectation of riches.
I kept this one. I keep a lot of things from my kids' youth. I've got old hats they wore at baseball, old games, T-shirts and God knows what else. There isn't enough money in the world to pry this rock from my hands.
Like other parents, I look at all of these things and try to remember the kids that fit them. But I mostly can't. When Sean and his brother, Patrick, were very young, I remember holding them like footballs and thinking, "I've got to remember what this feeling is like." But while I remember doing it, I can't quite remember the moment. Few people can.
Our brains are not wired to be able to remember a snapshot like this. Our memories might be preserved but the feelings are not. As each one comes along, our brain rewrites the previous one until after 25 years, you have a composite feeling made of little pieces of 25 years. It's a good feeling -- a great feeling. But it's not the feeling of a singular moment.
On his 25th birthday, I want to believe that my oldest son had the best childhood a kid could have, that his memories of being the son of Bob and Carolie Collins are as joyful as his mother's and mine are, and that at 25, he realizes the great things that are still to come, and that they will be better than anything you can imagine.
Just like he is.
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