I look at my son at fourteen and I see the strength and the promise in him. He's smart. He doesn't see the world the way others do, but since he also hasn't taught himself to look through their eyes the man-child they see is not what he wants to project.
He is thrashing right now, trying to discover who he is, where he fits, what this world is all about. He already recognizes that what the world says it demands is very different from what it will tolerate- something I did not understand until I was much older- but he doesn't have the experience or the wisdom to use that insight safely. Not yet.
I remember that path, and want so badly to walk it with him, show him the traps and the glories of life, but it can't be done. He'll become a man and he will do it alone, the only way it can be done. I hope he trusts at every step that he is loved. I hope he learns early that discovering who you are is only half, the other half is deciding who you will be.
He is cautiously exploring the social spiderweb. He's in a good place with good role models. He will love and admire strong, smart, tough women because those are what he sees all around him... if he doesn't get bound to one of the dozens that he will be drawn to "save" as a young man. That's a familiar path, too.
For the next years- no one knows ho many- he will be driven to put distance between the familiar and himself, to form an identity that is clearly not a clone of his father but himself , separate and real. Then, if I live long enough, we will sit down with a good scotch and he will tell me all the things he doesn't know how to say right now. And I will say the thing he doesn't know how to hear, "I love you, son."
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