Ok, confession time. Yes, I got choked up. That “thing” that happens to parents when their children overwhelm them with love and pride, happened to me. It was a moment of, “That’s why people have children.” Alright, I’ll stop being vague and confront the feeling head on for you. I’m a dude, give me a break.
Noble got to celebrate his 4th birthday at his preschool on Friday. For the first time, Gayle and I were allowed to be inside the classroom to join in the celebration. Normally parents aren’t supposed to be inside the classroom. It’s a Montessori school, and I think they just don’t want us seeing the kids building furniture or sewing shoes.
When we arrived, the kids were in the middle of their activities. Some kids were walking around, but there was Noble, with a mat out, doing a “job”. Noble was sitting and engaging in an educational activity?? It felt so good to see this. Here was our crazy little guy, who loves to run, jump, smash and throw, sitting quietly focussed on matching the amount of blue stones to the numbered cards. This, I believe, is when the seed of my choked up feelings was planted. Daddy was feeling quite proud.
Noble was also extremely excited to see us arrive. This wasn’t a normal thing, to have mom and dad showing up, and he welcomed us in and brought us over to his mat to show us his work. He wasn’t clingy. He wasn’t crying for us to take him home. He was happy. Damn, that is a wonderful thing to see!
Next came time for collective. This is when all the kids sit around the teacher and she reads them a short story and then they all partake in a song. Noble put away his job, rolled up his mat, and put his mat away. What the F?! He put away his stuff when he was done with it?! NICE!
My son sat down and joined in the collective. They listened to the book, sang a song, and then Ms. Michel called Noble up to the front of the room for his birthday celebration. At this point I could feel myself becoming emotional, so I tried to just bounce attention from Noble, to the kids, to Gayle (a technique used by manly men to avoid losing their shit crying in public). Ms. Michel set out a table in the middle of the room. On top there was a painting of the sun. She placed a candle in the middle of the sun and lit it. She had Noble grab a little globe, and when he returned she asked him, “How many times has the earth traveled around the sun since you were born?” My brilliant child held up his four fingers and proclaimed, “Four!”
It’s at this time that I was filling up with all kinds of pride. There was my son, up in front of everyone, enjoying his moment! I felt so happy for him. Ms. Michel had him walk around the sun table while the kids sang a song. With each orbit around the sun table, he came to a stop at Ms. Michel. Then she asked Gayle or I to say something that Noble was doing at age one. From a prepared list, Gayle read that Noble was taking his first steps. He began walking on his first birthday. Everyone acknowledge that info and then Noble was sent around the sun again. Gayle asked if I wanted to read the next one. I quietly waved it off and asked her to read them all, because I knew that if I started talking and said something great about Noble while he was staring at me with that big ass smile, then my voice would crack and I’d cry lose my shit.
We made it through the years, and then it came time to choose partners. Once it’s lunchtime, Ms. Michel picks children one by one to stand and choose their partner for lunchtime. Because it was Noble’s special day, he got to go first. Noble normally has his lunch friend already picked out before school starts. As the children play around before the gong rings to begin the day, his friends exchange, “I’m your partner today!” or “No, you can’t be his partner, I wanna be his partner!” So there Noble stood, and you could tell he was enjoying his moment of supreme power as he paced around the room with his hand on his chin, tapping his mouth with his index finger over and over. This was a child in an intense deliberation. I couldn’t hold in my laughter as he took a ridiculously long time to make his decision. He was loving all the attention. And in a surprise upset, he did not choose Alex (I heard him talking earlier about being partners with Alex when I dropped him off). He chose Rowan!
Being a parent is extremely difficult. It’s 99% give give give. These little monsters will rip at your patience at every given opportunity, and will suck your life force until the sun goes down. But when moments like the one we had at his school occur, it reminds me why becoming a father is the only truly peak experience I’ve had in life. Everything else is just “really cool”. Being Noble’s dad is a purpose fulfilled.