The Union Recorder

May 18, 2013

COLUMN: Boys to men — pretty cool indeed

Mike Rowland
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Just for the record, I have two sons. They are grown men now, but it hasn’t been so long ago that I don’t remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the night Mama and I stayed up all night one Christmas Eve playing Super Mario on Nintendo because we knew we would never get a second chance once the boys got hooked.

My oldest is 27 and my youngest just turned 24. They are both married now and well on their way to independence. They call me occasionally for advice but almost never for money.

Pretty cool.

I have found that since they don’t ask for money I end up giving more of it to them than I should. Something about knowing they don’t expect any help from me makes it just a little easier to give.

My parents did that for me, so I guess I am just passing down the tradition.

My boys … men actually, although I suppose they will always be boys to me … are very different. They have their own personalities; one has dark hair and the other is blonde; they have always chosen different paths but are both successful in their own right.

They are kindred spirits; little brother worships his older sibling, and big brother is learning to covet that respect by returning it in spades. They are as competitive as ever, but the competition doesn’t seem to be quite as personal as it was when they were little.

One can stay up all night and often does. The other would wander into the living room around 8:30 p.m., and say, “Isn’t it time for bed?”  

We would explain that he still had 30 minutes before bedtime but that he could go to bed anytime he wanted. True to his nature, he never opted for bed before the deadline lest he be cheated out of precious moments of taking advantage of everything life has to offer.

I was looking at a picture the other day with the two of them side by side, and little brother has actually become big brother in stature.  That has an ironic twist that only a father can appreciate.

Once they both discovered language, the demeanor of our house was never the same. Moments of quiet contemplation were few and far between, and I can remember looking forward to bedtime just to get a break from the noisy existence of little boys.

Both of them, along with their wives, were recently at our home together at the same time … a rarity anymore … and I remember telling Mama how much I miss the joy of childhood laughter in the house again … the giggles of little girls makes it that much sweeter.

Silence may be golden, but it is still silence.

I tell you that story to tell you this story: A couple of months ago … I forget the exact day now … Mama sent me a text.

“What time are you coming home?” It was near the end of my day, so I texted back that I was headed out the door.

“Brian wants you to call him on your way home.”

Just so you know, there is a pecking order at my house. I’m not really sure how it evolved, but my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that I used all of the patience I could muster to raise everybody else’s children. When it came to my own, I must admit they got the short end of the stick.

What I have learned is that if they go through their mama to communicate with me … well, that can never be good. I figured the boy had either wrecked his car or gotten himself thrown out of the Navy. In the parenting business, you learn to expect the worst and hope for the best. Landing somewhere in the middle is about as good as you can hope for.

This son is the one who wears his feelings on his sleeve. Aside from the time he surprised his mama at Thanksgiving with a trip home from Chicago, the boy’s face gives away his hand every time. Poker is definitely not his game.

Consequently, I can usually tell by the tone within the first three syllables of any sentence he utters just what kind of psychology I’m up against. That being said, I figured I’d better find out what lay ahead before I headed home.

“Dude!”… My customary greeting.

“Sup?,” he replied with a slight lilt in his voice. That didn’t sound too bad.

“Mom said you wanted me to call.”

“Well, are you sitting down?”

“I am,” I said with the kind of inflection that was a cross between a statement and a question.

“So how does it feel to be a grandpa?”

“You are kidding me,” I replied still trying to reconcile the word “Grandpa” with the something bad that I just knew had happened.

“You are kidding me,” I said again mainly because “Hot Dang!!” just didn’t seem dignified given the business environment in which I found myself.

“Yep. Just found out today.”

Pretty cool. Pretty cool indeed.