My son Jonny turned 9 today.
How did that happen? Where did the time go?
I like to say that Jonny is a very “young” 9-year old, but the truth is, he is growing faster than I would like to believe.
I can already tell we are reaching the twilight of his childhood years and it makes my heart ache. I am proud of the maturity he has shown and the person he is becoming, but is it selfish of me to want to hang on to these last few years of childhood for a bit longer?
The years when he doesn’t care what people think about him, or how he looks. The times when he isn’t trying to impress other people or fit in, when he is content to play and pretend and wants to snuggle with his Daddy.
I know that one of these days, will be the last day he wants me to hold him… the last time I will pick him up.
There is a game I play with Jonny. It’s called “The Daddy Trap.” I will squeeze him as tight as I can and he can’t escape. And inside the Daddy Trap, time stands still. There is no growing up in the Daddy Trap. It was forged from one of the stars of Neverland.
I know I can’t freeze time, but sometimes I like to pretend I can. Writing is a way for me to do that. I can snatch a moment out of time and capture it here forever. So here is a piece for my son Jonny on his 9th birthday. I hope you enjoy it.
THE DADDY TRAP
You’re stuck in the Daddy Trap, Bubba.
No growing up allowed, here. You are stuck as an 8-year-old forever.
You can’t leave. Your “stuffies” need you to be their friend.
Here, your stuffed animals are still alive. If you leave, they will get lonely.
So they agree, you are stuck here.
The Daddy Trap has got you, Bubba.
Here, the world is a great big magical mystery. A place of wonder and excitement.
Here, there are no senior projects. No highschool graduations… or going off to college.
Here your “girlfriends” are friends you occasionally see who happen to be girls.
Here, there are no “dates,” dances, or proms.
Girls are gonna be tough to marry, considering they all still have cooties.
I’m afraid you’re stuck here, Bubba.
There is no driving allowed, seeing how your feet won’t ever touch the pedals in the Daddy Trap.
Here, you still want to be picked up and held.
Here, your Mama is still taller than you.
Here, your favorite shirt is a Darth Vader costume.
You can’t get away, Bubba.
And yet as I sit here, thinking of all the things the Daddy Trap keeps you from doing, you went and turned 9 years old.
And it seems The Daddy Trap has broken.
Time moves on.
Somehow 9 years just flew by in the blink of an eye. I am afraid to blink again.
Because in the time it took us to blink from your birth to now, when we open our eyes again, you will be 18.
The “stuffies” you personally picked out and named, and were the most important things in your life will become things you pack up in garbage bags to give away.
You will be too big to carry, and too old to play “tickle monster.” Those times will be long gone.
You will have responsibilities of your own.
You will have tough decisions to make, entering a world of alternative facts and fake news.
But not now.
The Daddy Trap is broken, but I will still hold on to you and cherish the moments we have…
A world of blanket forts and matchbox cars.
Of Star Wars and the Muppet Show.
Of favorite colors and favorite foods.
Today I will keep my eyes open as long as I can.
Seeing every moment. Every minute of every day.
Because when I finally blink, this will all be gone.
And even though I will miss it, I will always cherish it.
Even when you don’t carry your stuffed animals around,
or have dance parties by yourself, or play in your blanket fort.
Let me take this moment in time, this small piece of eternity and freeze it just for a second to tell you this:
I will ALWAYS love you and be proud of you, wherever you are.
Happy 9th birthday, Bubba