Ten little stories about a ten-year-old boy

1. When he was just three apples high, like the Smurfs, one of Son’s favorite places to go to was the local park, because there were animals. Some sheep, some horses, some rabbits, some chicken. And a big rooster. Sometimes we took sandwiches with us, other times we bought some cookies or hotdogs there.
This was one of the other times.
Son got a hotdog in his hand, and he stood there on the park bench, quietly enjoying his hot dog, looking around. At one point, when he was looking around, the rooster snuck up on him, and snatched the hot dog out of his tiny hand.
Early lesson to parents. Son can hold a grudge. We don’t like roosters much anymore.


2. Next time you hear somebody say “nobody dreams of becoming a referee”, tell them there’s a kid in Sweden who dislikes all ball games, but doesn’t mind handing out red cards to his buddies. Son has always been like that. When the kids in our apartment building played soccer in the backyard, he ran around blowing in his whistle, a yellow and a red card in his shirt pocket. When Daughter and I play soccer in our backyard these days, Son is on the balcony, calling the game. Either as a ref or as a play-by-play guy.

3. Some days I think he may be a genius. He’s simply so smart. And it makes me a little worried. I don’t mind being the second smartest guy in the room, but I can feel the responsibility of nurturing a budding genius. But then we watch America’s Funniest Home Videos together, I see him laugh at cats scratching a door, and I’m not as worried anymore.

4. The other day he looked at me and said: “You know, I know what I’m going to look like when I grow up. I’m going to look like you.” My little Mini Me.
All my life, my father’s friends have told me how much I resemble my Dad. How much? A lot.
“You know, people always tell me that I look like Grandpa,” I told Son.
“Oh yeah?”
“And I can sort of see it, but I think I also look a lot like Grandma.”
“No, you don’t”.
“Yes, I do.”
“Not really.”
“I think I do.”
“No, Dad. Grandma never messes up her hair.”
“Oh, yes she does. You have a photo of that.”
“But that was just one time. And she was kidding.”

5. Last night, I was sitting at my desk, doing something, “work stuff” like I always tell Son and Daughter. Suddenly I realized that I heard talk from Son’s room, and when I turned to look, I saw that he was on his cell phone.
“OK, see you soon,” he said and hung up.
“Who was that?” I asked him.
“Mom. She’s going to be a little late.”
“Oh. Did she call you or did you call him?”
“She called me.”
“On your cell?”
“That’s right.”
“Huh. Why didn’t she call me, I wonder.”
“Maybe she trusts me more. After all, I am her offspring, you’re just her husband.”

6. When Son was an only child, and Wife had gone back to work, I sometimes rode my bike across town to pick him up from kindergarten. As soon as I had got on my bike, Son would yell, “Tell me a storrrryyyyyy!” And for the entire nine kilometers, I would have to tell him a story. Or stories.
“… And Lucky Luke rode into the sunset. The End. Nice story, right?” I’d say.
“No. The Daltons escaped because they had magic paint!”
“Fine, so, the Daltons escaped from the prison, using the magic paint that their Grandma had sent them, inside a loaf of bread. But when they came to their hideout, Luke was there waiting for them. The End…”
“… But then, Grandma slammed a door in his face…”
For a while, I had some concerns about Son always siding with the bad guys. Then I simply decided that he just never wanted the stories to end, so the bad guys had to get away.
These days, when we drive through our old neighborhood, he asks me to tell the story about how he made me tell him stories.

7. Sometimes, I think he’s a little too smart. (Not simply a genius). He doesn’t have to persevere and fight for things. Everything’s easy. So I tell him that when I was a kid, I didn’t have any toys. Once I told him that story when my mother was here, and she took a little offense at that. “You had a lot of toys,” she told me.
Son grinned.
However, when Son makes up his mind, he can do anything. Just like Doc Brown said in “Back to the Future”: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Or, as Son would put it: “Just like Dad always says: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
This fall, like last fall, he went from door to door selling candy, books, DVDs and other things to the people in our neighborhood. He had a catalogue with him so he showed his customers the choices, took their orders, sent them in to the company behind it all, and then delivered the stuff, all the while hoping to reach prize level 8 and get his hands on that Samsung Galaxy Ace. A real smartphone.
And he did. (See 5.)

8. I just played “Devil in disguise” on my laptop in our kitchen. “Oooooh, remember ten years ago,” said Wife. Sure I do. As a baby, Son showed his iron will by refusing to fall asleep. One of my tricks to get him to do that was to hold him real tight in my arms, and then dance to “Devil in disguise”, and move him fast from left to right, and back.
You look like an angel / walk like an angel / talk like an angel / but I got wise
You’re the devil in disguise (Oh, yes you are).

But I’d also whisper, “No, you’re not.”
And just 45 minutes later he’d be sleeping like the baby he was. Easy.

9. I’m an only child so I don’t know what it’s like to have a big brother. But I do know that Daughter is one lucky girl to have the big brother she has. She knows it, too, and that makes me one happy guy.

10. At Son’s christening, his Godfather told us to pay attention to not only what we can teach the child, but to what we can learn from him. It seemed like the sort of thing you say at an event like that, but I’ve often thought about how right he was.
Son has taught me a lot. Some magic tricks, several good jokes, but mostly just how to be brave and confident.
He knows who he is, and that’s why he wasn’t nervous going to a movie shoot a few weeks ago. That’s why he can sit down during the shoot’s lunch break next to the famous Swedish director and ask him if the movie’s going to be any good – “I think it’s going to be great”, Son assured him – and whether it’s going to be rated G.
“I just wonder if my six-year-old sister will be able to see the movie,” he explained.
And I was sitting there, across the table from Son, next to the director, and all I could do was smile.
Another thing I’ve learned from him is that ten years go by so fast.

Happy birthday, Son. Happy birthday.

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