Today is the end of what has become a rocky, tiresome, and utterly aggravating road. That’s something I’ll tell you, dear reader, and no one else. Especially my son. Because he is to blame for all of this. And, by extension, so am I.
I’ve always found it fascinating how certain traits in parents are passed on to their children. I’m not talking about things like hair and eye color. I’m talking about attitudes and preconceptions, things that go a long way in defining how they see the world. Good things. Bad things, too.
Take my son, for instance. Folks say he has my looks and my hairline, two things for which I’ve already apologized to him. Like his father, he loves baseball and walking through the woods. And he also has a tendency to fixate on something he wants to the point of near obsession.
It’s this last point that has led us down the rocky, tiresome, and utterly aggravating road.
My son also loves Star Wars (again like his father, once upon a time). Five and a half weeks ago found the two of us in the toy aisle at Target, where we stood face to face with what he described as the single greatest thing ever in the history of the world—a Darth Vader costume. Complete with mask, utility belt, cape, and a genuine imitation lightsaber.
“I gotta have that, Dad,” he said.
“Sure is nice.” I looked at the price tag. “How much money do you have?”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out three quarters, a rubber ball, and three Legos.
“Don’t think that’ll do it,” I told him.
My son knew that. Reality is rarely comforting, however, so he spent the next few days sulking. All of his other costumes—and his has dozens—paled in comparison. His life would not be complete until he could walk through the house as Darth Vader, doing that deep, throaty breathing and intimidating us all with the dark side of the Force. His paltry (to him) allowance meant he’d have to wait months to save enough money, and by then the costume would be gone. It was hopeless.
But then my son remembered his report card and his standing deal with his grandfather. Good grades equaled good money, much more than what I’d give him for cleaning his room and taking out the trash. The problem was that he had five weeks to wait.
And let me tell you, that was a long five weeks. A rocky, tiresome, and utterly aggravating five weeks.
He marked the days off his calendar. Asked me to float him a loan. Stared at a picture of the costume he found on the internet, then stared at me with puppy-dog eyes. He moaned and whined. He yelled and pouted. He even said he dreamed he’d finally bought it. My son obsessed over that costume for five weeks, and he just about broke me in the process.
Then came today.
Report card day.
His marks were good, which meant a quick trip to the grandparents between the end of supper and the toy aisle at Target. Two hours later, it was all mercifully over. I peeked at my son through the rearview mirror on the way home. He was cradling his prize. You should have seen the smile on his face.
It stayed there for a while.
As I write this, my son’s beside me on the sofa. He’s dressed to the nine’s—mask, cape, belt. Lightsaber. He’s slumped in the corner watching a rerun of Phineas & Ferb. During the last commercial, he said, “Did you see that new Lego set they had at Target? That would be awesome.”
I figure I have another six weeks or so to hear that. Yet another rocky, tiresome, and utterly aggravating road.
I suppose I’ll comfort myself with the hope that he’s learning a valuable lesson through all this. One that we all should learn at some point.
Because there are a lot of things in our lives like my son’s Darth Vader costume—things that are wonderful before we attain it and nothing special afterward.