Tuesday, February 01, 2022


This is in my TV room:

If you look closely, you can see the Iron Giant holding Hogarth carefully in his hands. I looked at this yesterday and had a sudden realization about being a parent. 

Early in Eli 20.5s life, I was the Iron Giant. I felt exactly like that picture, and I felt that way for a long time. I was the protector. It was my job to make sure nothing bad happened to him. I wanted him to struggle, yes, and even fail, because those aren't bad things. I just wanted to protect him from the bad, dark things.

And I did. Somehow.

He grew older, and I had to transition from protector to companion. There were always elements of both growing up, because we're best friends, but the protection slider started going down once he got to high school. It wasn't easy, at times, because I had so much more experience than him, but if you don't let someone make their own decisions, they never learn how. 

It's very hard to stop being the protector when that's been your role since the first day of someone's life. 

Being companions, though, was great. We played lots and lots of golf, always walking, and we'd talk the whole time. Or play tennis. Or do anything, really, as an excuse to hang out together. And I still felt like the protector, every once in a while, but not so often. We have hundreds of stories about being together, like a secret language only we understand.

There's another phase now, and it's a much more fundamental change, because I have to transition from being a companion (and occasionally being a protector) to being a resource. Even though we text every day and talk several times a week, Eli just isn't physically around very often. When his last Oxford term ends in June, he may be in Serbia for the rest of the summer (a super cool program I'll tell you about at some point). I'll fly over in spring and see him for a week, but his life is becoming separate from mine. When he graduates from college, things are going to move even further in that direction. 

I know it's supposed to happen this way, and I'm happy for him, because his life is filled with so many wondrous things. He makes his own messes and cleans almost all of them up, which is saying something for a twenty-year-old.

I still remember being the Iron Giant, though.

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