Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

My son is me, but also not me.

My middle son is not really me, but I feel like I understand how his brain works better than anyone.

I feel his angst like it is my own. His frustration, his guilt, his desire to fit in conflicting with his craving for solitude.

Someone tells a joke and everyone laughs. He follows up with an attempt of his own that falls short. My heart beats a little faster for him because I remember that feeling. Wanting the spotlight on me for something good, just for a second.

I spent so much time as kid being teased and pushed around. I remember wanting so bad for people to focus on me for something else.

He asks a million questions, some simple requests for information, some totally bizarre. I know that sometimes it’s the only way he knows how to interact. When you can’t think of anything else to say, ask a question. Any question.

But here’s where he and I diverge.

Sometimes he asks questions that he knows the answers to, just so he can have a specific conversation. I don’t know why. Maybe for him, it soothes him to know the outcome of a conversation.

I was an angry kid, but not for very long. He was angry about everything for years.

It was almost unbearable living with him. Punishing him didn’t work. Being extra nice to him didn’t work. Sometimes it felt like he reacted worse to kindness than anything else. The anger has settled down. He’s more self-aware and he can catch himself before he blows up.

He’s become so responsible. He’s always the first to jump up when a favor is needed. The kids have weekly jobs that they rotate through and he is the best at all of them, especially dishes. He loves doing the dishes.

He is empathetic in a way that I never was.

His memory is amazing. He is a vacuum for knowledge, hoovering up every scrap of information he find about everything.

I think I understand how his mind works but I have no idea what he’s going to be like when he’s older. I don’t think he’ll be like me. I imagine him going off somewhere far away. He says he wants to be a biologist in Brazil and I believe him.

We had a talk once, driving along the edge of Cherokee Park, that sums him up. It was spring and the light was soft as it filtered through the trees, a sea of green.


Yeah buddy?

I like this view.

Me too, babe. It’s pretty.

It’s pretty, but I’ve already seen this view before. I like to see new views all the time.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to him, but I suspect it will be amazing.