I became a father when I was 39. That’s old. Simple math shows that I will be 57 when my oldest son graduates high school. “Hey, grandpa–so nice you could be here to watch your grandson on his graduation day!” Why so old, you ask? I took a six-year detour with The Practice Wife–thankful that no children resulted from that union. I remember being 12 and thinking that there was no way I would be ready to be a daddy at 25 and that I had better wait. At that age, I was not entirely sure of the mechanism used to accomplish fatherhood anyhow; but I gave myself plenty of time to figure it out. I thought I was wiser at 25 than I had ever been, but I still had some wisdom to acquire and maturity to grow. Yep, 30 would be a better age to create mini-Eriks. Shortly after that mark I met the first Mrs. Hanson.
I might have guessed how that would turn out when she stood giggling at our altar in a Ski Lodge in Frisco, CO–giggling because the fireplace was making popping sounds that sounded like someone breaking wind. The emotional maturity of a first grader. I would think most women would gush over a two-week honeymoon skiing in Europe, traveling by Eurail to six different countries, skiing over the mountain from Switzerland into Italy under the shadow of the Matterhorn. Or the standing-room-only Christmas Eve service in Zermatt, spoken in a German dialect with locals dressed to the nines and big snowflakes falling. Or ringing in the new year in Salzburg, Austria–birthplace of Mozart–at the Festung while serial cannon fire echoed across the nation from one Austrian border to the next.
But no! She grew tired of me and I grew tired of her by the end of that two weeks. I couldn’t wait to be home to have some alone time. Surprise, surprise when this marriage didn’t work out. It didn’t help that we decided to try med school living in different cities 2 1/2 hours apart. I lost my ‘coolness’ factor when I got the boot from med school–suddenly the first Mrs. Hanson was not going to be married to a doctor after all. She would have to change that. To make matters worse, we opted to gut an entire house and live in it during the repair. This is also a great way to stress a marriage.
When I met Sara, we talked about our future with little ones running about, refrigerator magnets in place, how we would (as older parents) likely spoil them rotten. I am glad we made some time to travel, see France, Andorra, Spain, visit Cozumel twice, and make a run of the B & Bs in New England. Having children in school dramatically slows a parent’s pace to travel and see new places. These days we get to Washington Island in Door Co., WI each summer and to visit family in Iowa. My wife’s family visits on holidays and mine never visits, except Uncle Sam.
Our oldest son Noah is smart, handsome, and likeable. He seems to make friends easily and always puts his best foot forward…when he is not at home. When he is at home he lets his hair down and picks fights with his next younger brother, mixes like oil and water with his mama, and seldom misses a chance to show how lazy he can be–God’s challenge to me as a father. When his teachers have commented on how helpful and polite he is at school, we stop to verify that they are talking about our son. A friend of ours pointed out that it is good that Noah can “let his hair down at home–and be who he really is.” My fear is that he will require more of our help once he is of age than I can provide, due to my advancing years.
Our second oldest son Jonah was speaking in complete sentences when he was 18 months old. In the words of Shrek “you have the right to remain silent; what you lack is the ability.” He talks with the sweetest lisp and I know one day that will just be done talking that way. He has deep chocolatey brown eyes like his mama and is a very sweet and thoughtful boy. He also knows exactly how to best antagonize his older brother Noah.
Our youngest son, Eli, a.k.a. “Monster Baby” was originally nicknamed this because of his off-the-chart growth.
Not that any of the boys is a shrinking violet–all have been off the chart. Eli is not yet two years old and is 52 pounds. His size makes him a monster. Lately, however…his behavior does too! He is pure imp these days, having found his terrible two’s early. He is a game player and one of my favorite pictures of him is when he was helping me put away clean clothes and he put my boxer briefs on his head with his face sticking out one of the leg holes.
Trust me, there are times when Sara and I look at each other and second guess our choice to be parents. We could have had another home in the south of France, but no…we chose parenthood instead!