In The Presence of a Man

I lost my little boy today…

Last thing I remember was singing him to sleep and holding him tightly, promising to never let him go. This morning however, he crossed through the gates to the other side and never looked back.

I don’t even feel like I got to say a proper goodbye. One minute he was there and the next, gone. I just stood there in stunned disbelief, remembering all the good times and thinking about all the things I still hadn’t taught him.

I definitely wasn’t ready for this moment, that much I know for sure. He certainly can’t be ready for the next stage of his life. What if he gets hurt? Who’s going to be there to make it better? What if he can’t get his lunch bag opened? He’ll starve to death! As I went through all the terrible scenarios in my head, all I kept repeating was “This can’t be happening! This can’t be happening!”

The reality is, it WAS happening and there was nothing I could do about it but stare in awe of the fine young man my wife and I had created and raised. My little boy had crossed the gates into manhood and I’ve never EVER been so proud in all my life!

Our walk to the school this morning was a long one for sure. My son had no idea the emotions that were swirling around the minds of my wife and I, but hopefully someday he will. That pit in your stomach as you feel like you are walking the longest plank, to imminent doom.

I hope that someday he will get to experience this moment with his own children. Maybe then he will understand that all the crying and stress from his parents wasn’t about sadness or anger, but a totally different emotion that overpowers all others.

Pride. Because that’s all I feel for him on this day as he embarks on his new journey.

I’m proud of him for having the courage to take that next step. I’m proud of him for making sure to hug his sister before he left us today. I’m proud of how he coloured in the lines at the teacher interview yesterday and how he counted to 30 and sang the alphabet song as if he’d been doing it his whole life. I’m proud of every accomplishment he has ever achieved and everything he still has left to do in his life.

Everyone told me I would love being a father, but no one warned me about the pride. Seriously, why did no one tell about this part? How am I supposed to be “Big, Tough Daddy” when I start to well up when my son beams about passing his first swimming class? If that’s the kind of thing that sets me off, what’s going to happen when he scores his first goal in hockey? (Okay, we haven’t discussed sports yet but c’mon, we are Canadian!)

The important lesson I learned today is that while my kids still have a lot of learning and growing to do, so do their Mommy and Daddy! I have to learn how to deal with all these emotions while continuing to maintain control of myself. All I wanted to do after we dropped him off today was to curl up in bed until it was time to go get him. I didn’t do that, but it was definitely on my mind.

As it turns out, he did just fine at his first day of school. As he says “I didn’t even cry, not once!” and “I even opened my snack box and now there’s nothing left in it!” with that big ol’ grin of his. My son is more than ready for school and I couldn’t be more proud of him for it.

I lost my little boy today…but I gained a wonderful young man!

 

22 replies
  1. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I’m not a fan of “Lost my little boy……”

    What is this…? “My little boy had crossed the gates into manhood and I’ve never EVER been so proud in all my life!”

    I was reading this and realized this child is in what, Kindergarten? How has he crossed into manhood? manhood??
    Maybe big boyhood?

    Maybe try to mute the harsh emotional tones and you yourself have some pride about being proud. It seems like you put your poor little kid though quite a few emotional hula hoops.

    example:
    “Maybe then he will understand that all the crying and stress from his parents wasn’t about sadness or anger, but a totally different emotion that overpowers all others.”

    What is the overpowering emotion? Pride or Fear?

    Kids pick up on this stuff and it stresses them out. Let him have cheers, confidence and support instead of fear because a proud parent would not think about curling up in bed.

    Regards,
    Tracy

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks for the comments Tracy but I think you are reading a little too much into the post. I thought I had made it clear that the overpowering emotion was pride but I guess I didn’t do as good a job as I thought. I refer to him as a young man because that’s how I feel about the situation, plus the fact that I am a story teller and write what I feel.

      The stresses and tears are mostly hidden from him and done behind closed doors between my wife and I. All he gets from us is love and support and we are damn good parents if I do say so myself.

      Point is, this is a story and only my wife and I know the way we raise and treat our children. Again, I appreciate your comments and concerns but I assure you we are raising our children the way we feel is right and I am not about to apologize for it.

      Reply
    • The Maven
      The Maven says:

      That was over-the-top harsh, Tracy. I hope you don’t hold yourself to the same standards as a parent, because that’s a recipe for burnout if I’ve ever seen one. We are not robots, and our kids are going to see us emotional at times. I think it’s good for them to know that their parents have emotions – even if they’re not always happy ones. It’s okay for pride to be mixed with worry, or a feeling of loss. Our kids going to school is a big step, and there are feelings that come with that.

      I try very hard not to tell other parents how to raise their kids on the internet. I don’t know their children like they do, and I don’t know their situations save for the snapshots they provide us via blogs or social media sites. If you were to just read my blog, you’d likely see a very different parent than if you saw me at the park. If you must critique people, it might be better to look to someone you know personally so you can get a better idea of how they are in their day-to-day lives. Or maybe not. Because really, until you’ve spent weeks in their home, you have NO IDEA.

      Lovely post, Chris. I get your emotions. I cried when my firstborn started kindergarten (he’s now in grade 10). I was a little sad when our second did, and nothing but excited when our youngest started this week. You’ll come to love it as much as he does, I promise 🙂

      Amanda
      @stayathomemaven

      Reply
    • Kristine
      Kristine says:

      Ouch. As my husbands biggest critic (aren’t all wives?) I must say that you are being a tad (ok a lot) bit harsh. Emotions can be really difficult to express and that is why storytellers are amazing because they can bring you in with their words, their metaphors, a way to relate. Also… please note that my husband did not go home and lie down to have a good sob…come on….this is a man who’s Father passed away before his eyes and he kept his head held high. I for one did cry in front of my child today, I explained that you can cry because you are happy and proud too….I don’t hold that as a weakness….sorry…..that’s who I am…I am sensitive and my son will grow up being sensitive to others emotions and his own. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be scared, it’s ok to be brave and it’s ok to be proud. He did amazing today and I’d like to think we had something to do with that…
      Sincerely, a defensive Canadian Mom.

      Reply
  2. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Such a beautiful post Chris and the picture is priceless. I think Tracey is reading FAR too much it and being far too critical. I think we have all been through these same emotions. My little boy crossed the gates of Grade 1 on Tuesday and I was filled with all of the same emotions. Pride mixed with some sadness as we just don’t know what is ahead for them once they hit this new stage of life.
    You are a great Dad Chris and a beautiful writer! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Kathryn, I appreciate the kind words. I guess from the outside looking in on the stories, it can be hard to cut through and understand what the writer is trying to get across. I respect all opinions and think in Tracy’s case, she just misunderstood the point of it all. I hope your boy gets through his Grade 1 adventure alright, although they are a lot tougher than we think, haha.

      Reply
  3. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    Enjoyed your post and the fact you shared your emotions with others. We can relate. Our boy started kindergarten on Tuesday and I walked away much faster than my husband hoping no one would see the tears rolling down my face. It’s tough. Great post…thanks for sharing and don’t let the trolls get you down ;).

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Wanda, I may have had to convince my wife to leave as well but I had the same urges to stick around that she did. It was tough walking away and even tougher because of the fact that it didn’t bother him at all, lol.

      Reply
  4. Brandi
    Brandi says:

    Its such an emotional roller coaster watching our kids grow and embark on new adventures, such as school. Pride is definitely the word for it like you said. I feel that every time I drop my son off at Senior Kindergarten and every time I pick him up. To think that these are their first steps into independence and the opportunities and adventures ate endless from here on! Sounds like you guys have a great family of support and love 🙂

    Reply
  5. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    My two cents:

    I have two 5th graders and a kid in Grade 10, and the pride I have and express regarding my children on the first day of school, or on any important day in our lives, still elicits a tear or two. Nothing wrong with that. My youngest son wasn’t supposed to make it past his first birthday. Whether it’s seeing him on the schoolyard or on a pony ride for the first time, I’m gonna cry. Those are well-earned tears. I will never apologize for them.

    Changing the subject a little, now. Inquiring minds want to know, Chris, where you picked up the Perry backpack. DS9 would absolutely plotz if he had one.

    Reply
  6. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Honestly, when I read this it it felt to me that it had the same emotional flow and content as something you would read in the obits.

    No one is a robot but I just don’t see where “manhood” comes into play for a child in Kindergarten. Can someone clarify?
    I would never consider a child in Kindergarten a “man” or anyone that has not reached puberty for that matter. So strange.

    I see things differently but embrace all emotions, they are so healthy. Mostly, I see nothing wrong with being proud and strong. Strong for family, strong for kids and showing pride with smiles and confidence. We are mirrors for our kids.

    It’s nice that people are supporting your emotional journey chris but in terms of writing or storytelling, it’s bad, the fluency is bad. I didn’t get much from it.

    Be cautious of people patting you on the back for a job well done when it’s not necessarily the case. Everyone wants their blog to be popular and liked but if you’re doing a lack luster job, they sure will tell you you’re awesome to your face and something else behind your back.

    Your biggest cheerleaders are often your biggest and harshest behind your back critics.

    Regards,
    Tracy

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Fair enough. Criticism is a part of the job and am willing to accept it when it comes in. That’s why I didn’t censor your comments. My manhood comment was just a figure of speech and perhaps was ill placed as in no way do I treat my son as a man yet. I am all about making sure his childhood is filled with all of the joys that come with being a kid but I can see where it could have gotten lost in translation.

      As for the people patting me on the back, I appreciate those that came to my defence and I imagine as regular readers and in some cases, friends, they know what I am all about as a father, which is all that really matters to me.

      Again, thanks for your feedback.

      Chris

      Reply
    • Kristine
      Kristine says:

      Sorry I think you are just plain rude. This is not a writing contest…nor do I think you have a pulitzer prize and really have any right to be critiquing the way you are. I’ll leave it at that out of respect for Chris.

      Reply
  7. Gerry
    Gerry says:

    I was frightened after reading the first sentence! I’m glad this is about the first day of school and even happier that it was a breeze for your son. Manhood is a few years away and I’m not sure what the phrase is for those who are beyond toddler and nursery school age as they enter the beginnings of their academic learning years. You still have pre-teen and teen to look forward to before that final manhood step…

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Gerry. Part of my evolution as a new writer is trying out new formats and writing styles. It seems this one didn’t land so well but I know that I at least tried and am happy for the criticisms I have received. I’ll just echo what I told Tracy earlier, and it’s that I do not treat my son as if he should be a man right now, it was simply a figure of speech for the story’s sake.

      Thanks for always participating, I respect hearing your opinions!

      Reply
  8. Wendy [mapsgirl]
    Wendy [mapsgirl] says:

    When your eldest child heads off for school, out of your control, and into a brand new world, there are a million emotions that happen in a split second!

    I loved this post and could completely relate! My eldest first day was 5 years ago but I can still remember her climbing on the bus, giving us a wave and not looking back. Proud of her confidence and independence.

    Reply

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