Yesterday and Today. COURTESY PHOTO/Andy Young

Of all the annoying things older adults did when I was a brooding, resentful adolescent, nothing was more irritating than their endlessly droning on about their health issues. Enduring all that tedious prattle about various afflictions, medications, and specialists was nearly as exasperating as hearing those same obsolete relics utter pearls of wisdom like “Time flies, so enjoy it while you can,” “They grow up so fast,” and similar clichés. It moved me to silently promise myself that, in the unlikely event I ever reached the age of those nattering old fossils, I would never utter any of those tired platitudes myself.

Presently I have indeed reached (and in some cases surpassed) the chronological age of those folks I considered geriatric in my youth, and I am proud to say I have remained true to that long-ago vow.

Until now.

It seems like just yesterday our first-born came home from the hospital to a house covered with half a foot of new snow, and a driveway that had been shoveled off by some Good Samaritans disguised as neighbors.

Not long after I was pushing him along in a stroller. Not long thereafter he’d want to get out occasionally and take a few halting steps himself, and when he no longer wished to walk or ride, I’d effortlessly pick him up, carry him home in one arm, and push the stroller with the other. The drool stains on my right shoulder were a small price to pay for such magic moments.

On his first Halloween he was outfitted as the world’s smallest pumpkin. Back then we’d finish our respective days by perusing my favorite childhood book, Go Dog Go, together in the rocking chair that’s still in my basement. The idea was to help him go to sleep, even though more often than not it was me who drifted off first. I can still hear, “Daddy! Daddy!,” and feel the tiny hand nudging me back to consciousness after I had stopped reading, often in mid-sentence. I thought he was a genius when, just short of three years old, he was reading Go Dog Go, aloud, without assistance. Only later would I learn he had, like many children that age, simply memorized the pages.

He got potty-trained in a single afternoon by a teenage day care attendant with a stud through her tongue, after months of his parents trying, spectacularly unsuccessfully, to accomplish the same thing.  An energetic, curly-haired little chatterbox who loved patiently explaining his world to both of his grandmothers, he needed distracting on Easter so his two younger siblings could find a few eggs, too.

He was playing soccer at the age where his uniform shorts came down to the middle of his shins, and scored his first-ever goal in his own team’s net, an event which didn’t seem to bother him or, for that matter, any of his similarly confused pint-sized teammates.

He was the top 5-year-old finisher in his first town fun run on Memorial Day.

He spent a magic afternoon in Pennsylvania playing air hockey and pinball with his Uncle Glenn, who, unbeknownst to him, was his own father’s first childhood hero decades before.

When his toy car slipped between the floor boards of a scenic overlook in Thetford Mines, Quebec, his piteous howls of agony caused his usually rational father to go over a pair of fences (both of which were festooned with bilingual “Danger….absolutely no admittance” signs) and crawl to the precipice overlooking an open pit asbestos mine that seemed to go to the center of the earth in order to recover the 99-cent vehicle.

He threw out a Portland baserunner trying to stretch a single into a double at a Little League all-star game in Gray. He rode to the top of the Gateway Arch in a cable car with me and his two siblings; we probably could have fit one more at the time. He coolly handing me his souvenir jackknife to cut away the seatbelt that was, inexplicably, strangling his six-year-old brother in the back seat on a lonely stretch of road in central Montana.

Then there were those two trips to the hospital, both after soccer-related mishaps. Which is the more painful memory: the one where he blew out his knee, or the one when he broke his ankle? (I suppose I should probably just ask him!)

It seems like all those things just happened.

Last week I took that little boy to a college nearly 600 miles from here. He’ll be home at Christmas.

Those boring old fogies were right. Time really does fly. Enjoy it while you can.

Now, would anyone like to hear about my most recent visit to the chiropractor?

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