|Teaching Lucas to Fish|
I made a rather startling discovery the other day. I discovered that some time during the past couple of years, my little boy, Lucas, left home and rented his room to a hulking, surly teenager…also named Lucas. It is hard to say exactly when this might have taken place. I mean I have been pretty busy with work and with all of the television that needs to be watched. I wasn't exactly paying that much attention to what Lucas was doing. I just looked up the other day and saw this guy sticking his head in our refrigerator, asking what there was to eat. He looked vaguely familiar. I knew I had seen him around before. Then I found out that he was living in Lucas’s room, so I put two and two together.
It does strike me as rather odd that I did not notice anything sooner than I did. There is a world of difference between “young Lucas” and “new Lucas,” as I have taken to referring to them. For starters, new Lucas is fifteen years old, whereas young Lucas is no more than five or six years old max. I know this for a fact because it was just yesterday that he was running around the yard playing with his stuffed eagle toy, or learning how to ride his bike or how to fish. New Lucas doesn't “play” at anything, unless you count online video games. And I am not really sure that these are games anyway. Not like any games I used to play. He plays online with people from all over the world. These programs are so sophisticated and fast paced that I literally have no idea what he is doing. I half expect to find out that new Lucas is the leader of an international group of computer hackers who have infiltrated the computer network of some European nation, destroying its infrastructure and crippling its economy. I shudder to think of what he will be capable of when he learns to drive!
Another difference between the two is their size/mass/bulk. I mean, this really should have been my first clue. Young Lucas was “kid” sized. I would smile down at him and he would smile back up at me. New Lucas is so big that we are going to have to hire an aerial photographer to take his high school graduation picture. He is six feet, one inch tall and two hundred pounds. Now I shudder when I look up at him and he snarls when he looks down at me.
Another thing about this new guy…he is not nearly as cuddly and affectionate as young Lucas was. Young Lucas was always running up to me and throwing his arms around me and giving me big hugs and kisses. Young Lucas wanted to be just like his dad. We even had matching clothes. Mine were “daddy” sized and his were “Lukie” sized. New Lucas has his own style of clothes. This consists mainly of a pair of baggy pants wore half way down his backside with six inches of boxers exposed, and an ever present baseball cap on his head. His mother and I tried to engage him in a family hug the other day and he wanted to know why he was being punished!
Young Lucas was really inquisitive. He could ask some great questions because he knew that his dad had all of the answers. Like the time he asked me, “Dad, if I eat nothing but marshmallows, will my poop be fluffy and white?” Sometimes his questions were quite profound. We were driving through town one day when we passed a group of abortion protesters He asked what “abortion” was, so I explained it to him. He thought for a moment, and then asked, “Why does God give babies to people who don’t want them?”
I think that new Lucas has pretty much reached that age where he has learned the answers to all of life’s important questions. Any information or advise that I have to offer him pretty much falls into one or more of the following categories: irrelevant, prehistoric, or boring. There is one exception however…one very focused line of inquiry into which he is never quite satisfied…usually expressed in one of the following ways: “When is dinner?” “What is for dinner?” “Is there anything to eat?” “Why is there a lock on the refrigerator?”
I have to admit though, when I think about it, that it is kind of nice having new Lucas around. He doesn't require the constant attention that young Lucas required. When young Lucas was being potty trained, he would finish his business, then yell out, “Daddy! Come wipe my butt.” New Lucas appears to be completely potty trained…a detail for which I am eternally thankful. I mentioned this story about potty training to new Lucas once. I pointed out that when I am eighty years old, the roles will be reversed and he will be taking care of me. He just pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to me. It was a list of local nursing homes. He delights in taking it out and showing it to me every now and then.
It is also nice to have another “guy” around. We can do “guy” things together, like when we go shooting our rifles out at the Pawnee National Grasslands. We can hold disgusting “guy” competitions; each of us proudly showcasing our proficiency in the manly art of belching or flatulence. Women just cannot compete on the same level as men do at these things, and it is nice to finally have someone against whom I can hone my skills.
New Lucas is also able (and sometimes even willing) to help out around the house; making repairs to things that need repairing, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, putting away the dishes, walking the dog. I don’t have to worry quite as much, being gone from the house twelve hours every day. I can count on new Lucas to keep an eye on things and hold the fort until I get back. And I know that anyone threatening his mother in my absence would have a formidable adversary to deal with.
There is a pride that a father has for his son when he is a small child. There is another special pride that he has when his son becomes a man. There are times when I miss the child that Lucas used to be. But I am looking forward to knowing the man that he is becoming.