Just the Other DayOpinion
OPINION — He was born just the other day, during a war that was taking place halfway around the world. Proof, maybe, that life would still go on, that good things happen in a world where so much bad occurs. The beginning of something impossible to understand or describe, something that has to be experienced, lived.
“A boy is a piece of existence quite separate from all things else and deserves a separate chapter in the natural history of man.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
After a while I realized he was a person. Maybe I had viewed a child as a sort of pet, at least until it was old enough to talk and go around without diapers. But this one, being present all the time, showed me he was much more than a dog or cat.
“Two small arms to hold you tight, two small feet to run, two small eyes full of love for you, one small son.” ~ Author unknown
Just the other day, as I was leaving to go somewhere, he held out his arms for a hug. For the first time I realized that I was important to him. He wanted to be with me, to do things with me; he wanted us to spend time together. I’d had no idea.
Above: A boy and a bug. (Contributed/Kendal Hemphill)
He squeezed me around the neck, and things changed. Life changed. Like it or not, this small person and I were inextricably entwined. Like marshmallows in hot chocolate, impossible to ever completely separate.
Of course, he had known that all along. I had just learned it.
“Boys are found everywhere – on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to . . . A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair, and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.” ~ Alan Marshall Beck
Suddenly, because of this little boy, I saw things unnoticed for decades. Bugs became valuable entomological specimens to be gathered and studied. Snakes and spiders were no longer unpleasant pests, to be immediately disposed of. Cows, sheep, horses, dogs – all had to be watched, smelled, touched, tasted. All had to be experienced.
“Boy defined: Nature’s answer to that false belief that there is no such thing as perpetual motion.” ~ Arthur unknown
And frogs. Well, catching a frog was the equivalent of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Nothing is as valuable to a boy as a frog, to be held, pocketed, petted, and made to hop. Lizards, though also wonderful, are difficult to obtain and more difficult to keep captive. And frogs have such a friendly, personable appearance. To a boy.
Above: Well, catching a frog was the equivalent of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (Contributed/Kendal Hemphill)
“God made a world out of His dreams, of magic mountains, oceans and streams, prairies and plains and wooded land. Then paused and thought, ‘I need someone to stand on top of the mountains, to conquer the seas, explore the plains and climb the trees. Someone to start out small and grow sturdy and strong like a tree.’ And so He created boys, full of spirit and fun to explore and conquer, to romp and run with dirty faces and banged up chins, with courageous hearts and boyish grins. And when He had completed the task He’d begun, He surely said, ‘That’s a job well done.’” ~ Author unknown
Just the other day the boy turned five years old. I gave him his first knife, a little Swiss Army model, to be wielded only under close parental supervision. His face showed this was quite a satisfactory development, as he pulled out the various instruments and tried each one. Every boy needs a Swiss Army knife.
“And he grew and grew strong as a boy must grow who does not know that he is learning any lessons, and who has nothing in the world to think of except things to eat.” ~ Rudyard Kipling
His eighth birthday was just the other day, when he got a Red Ryder BB gun. Armed now with the tools necessary to become a great Nimrod, he set forth on Backyard Safaris after Dangerous Game. At night, our home now enjoyed much better protection.
Just the other day he shot his first deer, no doubt the most bittersweet experience in a young boy’s life. Respect for the animal tempers the joy of accomplishment, and lets the boy know this is not an act lightly undertaken, nor cavalierly dismissed. Along with the power to provide for a family comes the responsibility to be a good steward of God’s creatures.
“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” ~ Mark Twain
Just the other day we went on our first overnight father/son float trip down the river. Time is suspended on the river, the world quietly waits elsewhere, and adventure is always just around the next bend. We turned over in the rapids, camped on a sandbar, cooked chili over a driftwood fire, and slept under the stars. He paddled his boat all the way, insisting he wasn’t tired.
At the take-out I asked him why he was bringing the small, smooth river rock with us. It was just a stone, no different from the thousands of others within sight. He said he would take it home and put it on his dresser, and keep it, and it would remind him of the best time he’d ever had. I turned away to tie the boats down.
That was just the other day; now he teeters on the brink of manhood. Today he is in between, with feet too big and pants too short. He becomes more brilliant by the hour, while I lapse rapidly into senility.
Tomorrow, he will be gone. He will leave home, get an education, marry, and start a family. And when he has a child of his own, I will hold the baby, and my son will look at me curiously when I say, “It was just the other day, you know, that I held you like this . . .”
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