He was the leader and even then, my protector. He was the one on the playground that announced the game they would play, usually pirates, and all of the children younger and older would follow his command.
High on the top of the climbing post, he would stand watch as the other children would scurry around and do his bidding. They served under him as loyal followers in spite of his small size and having only 5 years under his belt. He was their Captain and he promised to lead them into battles that would grant them only the best bounty and beautiful women. And should Ninjas attack ( and they often did ) his crew gave their lives to defend both ship and Captain. These are the games I remember watching him play, the ones that still make me smile some 25 years later.
He never followed the rules, in time I knew rules were just leashes put upon him and he would demand to have to learn life’s lessons the hard way. I often felt useless as his mother. He knew when he screwed up and would march himself to the corner to work out his own punishment.
Not to say that he always agreed with the rules of life though. He was the one who found limits of when to be OUT and when to be IN absurd and his Peter Pan laughter would echo through the night as he dared young girls to leave their sleeping chambers and find an adventure waiting beyond their garden gate.
We tried for years to convince him how much better life would be if he achieved better grades and fewer ex-girlfriends. Somehow that never sank in and I wonder now if he’ll be able to remember the names of all of the hearts he broke along the way. Now childhood has begun to fade and he’s the Captain of his own ship, his life a fresh new world waiting to be explored. His charming smile still bringing him luck, my beautiful boy is now a man.
I know that his seas won’t always be smooth sailing and he’ll have to navigate his own troubles now. But those troubles are his and as I have watched his desire for adventure grow, I have also seen his taste for serenity dominate as well. He lives in a peaceful place on the ocean, the view of gulls and waves greet him as he wakes.
It’s hard to watch your little ones take those steps away from home and remind yourself that you have done all you can do. But as his voice comes through the phone the pride he has in his life brings me such joy.
He is still protective over his family, but the leader of his own life now. Yet now he’s reaching back to grab my hand and let me know that he’s still my adventuresome boy, the one with the pirate smile and eyes to the sea.