The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things Jason Taught Me #3

Lesson #3: Don't try to match the energy curve of an eight year old

During school days, Jason goes to sleep at eight in the evening, and wakes up at about 6:30. But in summer, he'll stay up until after midnight if he can, and then sleep until noon. On the other hand, under natural circumstances, I would probably stay up until about two in the morning and sleep until ten, but being a Dad I need to get to bed by 11 so that I can get up early and take care of Jason. Note that, already, I've compromised my own energy curve.

But on the road? Fuggetaboutit. I'm sharing a hotel room--and sometimes a bed--with an eight year old. That means that his hours are mine, and him being on vacation means that he wants to stay up super late, and get up even later. Thirteen hours of sleep aren't unusual for the boy. And you can imagine what that means once he's up and around.

Good lord. Explosions of energy, wanting to run, and jump, and climb and go go go. Of course, he gets to sleep while I'm driving, and I can't EVER take a nap while he is awake and eager to engage.

I watched some of the other parents. There is a weary "youth is wasted on the young" expression on their faces. Yeah, right. And wisdom is wasted on the old. While I have no doubt that time has indeed reduced my energy, it hasn't done that as much as it SEEMS because Jason gets to run a schedule very different from my own.

It's taken him over a week to adjust to being back in Atlanta (oh! Right! There's that pesky time zone thingie in addition. Forgot about that), and he just rolls with the sleep, and irritation, and change in eating patterns that that implies. But me? Any ache, sleep cycle interruption, irritation or mood swing feeds the voice in my head that says: "you're getting old..."

Whatever. I first heard that voice in my late 20's. It's the same little demon now, maybe a little more impatient because I just don't give it as much attention as it thinks I should. But, it thinks, perhaps it can use Jason against me. See? You can't keep up with your own son. A child. It's over. Give up...

Oh, yada yada yada. Jason is Jason. I'm me. We are two ends of a single chain, and both holding on with all the heart we have. What a wonderful ride. Having an opposite-sex child is like falling in love again. Having a same-sex child is like watching yourself beginning life anew. I'll be damned if I will resent, regret, or envy my boy for who he is. Those are just games the ego uses to try to slow you down, usher you into the ranks of the living dead.

Not me. Not now. Not ever. And no one, ever, will use my boy against me. My family is the joy of my life, and only my connection to God will ever be stronger.


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