“When I grow old, I want to be just as fit and stylish as Grandpa”
– Son, September 17, 2010 at the Museum of Natural History
As long as I can remember, people have told me that I look exactly like my father. Of course, I don’t, and of course, I can’t see it, but since so many different people – including Wife – say it, there must be something in it.
Not that I mind it. Not one bit.
When I was eight years old, my Dad put me in a hockey school that was run by a friend of his, and his friend’s brother. Just so happened that those two, the Kapanen brothers, Hannu and Jari, happened to be elite players. Both played with Team Finland and both won the Finnish championship with Helsinki IFK, three years apart, Hannu in 1980, and Jari in 1983.
Or, “Hannes” and “Janne” as they were, and are, called.
Maybe because neither one of them went by their actual name, they liked to give little nicknames to the kids in the hockey school.
I became Pikku-Eikka, or “Little Eikka”, after my Dad’s nickname. Apparently, I looked just like Dad.
Now, that was pretty much the highest praise I could have got at that point in my life. Of course I wanted to be like Dad, because there was nothing he couldn’t do. He could fix everything, he was great at sports, he was a superfast skater – important! – , he was funny, my buddies liked him, and he just knew so much stuff.
Dad was there on my first day of school, and years later, on my last day of school. Probably because Mom had a better job, and it was just easier for him to take some time off. It was the same when I was just a toddler, and he was a stay-at-home Dad for a while. Not because he had it all figured out, but simply because he was out of a job.
We haven’t always seen eye to eye, and I never completely forgave him that he embarrassed me in front of a girl who had a big crush on me, but I understand now that we don’t always have all the answers.
I’m a lucky guy to be my father’s son.
A few years ago, a friend of ours, a photographer, wanted to add Son to his collection of baby shots. He used to take really tight close-ups of babies, so you could just see the baby’s face and a little bit of his shoulders, and then blow them up into big portraits. The effect was fabulous, because somehow, we like to add mental attributes and character descriptions to people, even the only thing we know is what they look like in that on shot.
That’s why the baby with the crooked smile looked like a future gangster, and the other one looked like a middle-aged banker – already at the age of 8 months.
This is what Son looked like:
A banker? A Lego designer? We’ll see.
The other day, as we walked down the stairs at the Finnish school in Stockholm, Son told me about his superpower:
“Dad, you know, whenever I see a picture of a person, I get an image in my brain, of what that person will look like as a grownup,” he said.
I pulled up the above photo on my phone and showed it to him.
“What will this guy look like when he grows up?” I asked him.
He didn’t say anything, he just smiled and pointed at me with his index finger.
“Like me? You think we look alike, you and me?”
“Yep,” he said.
“You like that?”
“Yeah, you look all right. But when I get old, I want to look like Grandpa,” he said, and skipped down the stairs.
Me, too, Son. Me, too.