“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Yesterday, I was reminded yet again how fleeting these days are. Once again, there are people hurting because of something so senseless. People who went to watch their loved ones run a race and left feeling scared, lost, and unsure of what's good in this world. I watched the news and felt scared, too, finding it hard to feel safe in a shattered world. And most of all, I thought of you.
When I was little, I saw the world the way you see it. I walked through it with a sense of ignorance, unaware of the realities out there. I felt loved, protected, and safe in a nurturing bubble built on play, love, and faith in everything that's good. As I grew, I began to see that the world outside of my bubble looked very different and learned that my safety, my freedom, and the unconditional love of my parents were things not to be taken for granted. Looking back, I knew what existed in the world, but it felt very far away to me, and I went through life unphased by the uncertainty beyond my bubble.
And now, as a parent, I realize the world looks very different and gets harder to make sense of now that I'm raising you in it. Instead of living inside a bubble, my life consists of attempting to create one for you, a safe, loving, and nurturing world that will shield you from the hurt, the pain, and the uncertainty that we see and don't see every day. But as I try to do this, I'm reminded all the time at how difficult that task is. It's a tough thing to understand and I wonder if I'll ever feel safe sending you out in this world without me.
Right now it's easy, but I know that all too soon, you will grow up and realize the world beyond this bubble we live in. You will ask questions, and you will wonder, and you will see the hurt that exists out there. And I hope and pray that I can teach you to not only see the good, but be the good. Because whenever there's hurt, there's good, and the good always overcomes the bad. I hope to teach you to be salt and light, to be a helper in a world that needs so much helping.
And for now, I realize the best way to teach you what it means to be salt and light is to show you happy for all it's worth. To wrap you up tight in this bubble and play and laugh and make the most of every single precious moment we have. These images of your childhood, of us inside this bubble, will always be my happy.
...playing pirates with you. You are very into play and when we take the time, the three of us can go on an adventure absent of all time, place, and reality. Whether it's a couch transformed into a pirate boat, a Pringles can as a telescope, or the carpet as a sea of magnificent waves, we see you at your absolute happiest when we pretend.
...your uncontrollable giggle when Daddy sings 'baby beluga' and surprises us by popping out from under the blanket, over and over and over again. Your giggle is by far the happiest sound in my world.
...your tiny little self at the top of the stairs at 4:30 in the morning. No matter how early it is or how much I'd rather be sleeping, the sight of your little self and disheveled hair, rubbing your eyes at the top of the stairs, makes me happy. Last night, you fell asleep with your pirate bandana on and this morning, I giggled as you stood there with it around your neck.
...when I wake up to you sitting beside me in bed, leaning over to kiss my lips. Most of the time, I have to ask for a kiss, but your unprompted ones are my favorites.
...your awe and appreciation of the little things. It's amazing to me that while you seem to have the world, your childlike wonder comes alive most at the simple things. Handing you a quarter while we wait in line at the car wash, letting you eat marshmallows out of a dixie cup, and hiding in the shower waiting for daddy to get home from work light up your world and remind me that the small things really are the big things.
...how cute you look in your jeans and navy blue cardigan. We called you Mr. Rogers and I couldn't get enough of you.
...your love of pirates. I love how you point to the little pirate boy on every page of your favorite book and say, "that's me," and how Dad has somehow become the pirate captain and I'm the parrot. I love your routine for every book we read, your 'What's this?' and the special lines you've memorized.
...our conversations. My latest favorite...
Cruz: (to Beau in the bathroom) "What's that?"
Dad: "That's my chest hair."
Me: "Cruz, do you have chest hair?"
Cruz: (looking at the front of his pajama shirt) "No, I have a rocketship."
Thanks for being my happy, sweet boy, and reminding me that the simple good exists all around us.