Sunday Confessions: Where's Our Project Almanac?
AHEM...now that I've got that outta the way....
My youngest son is 6.5 years old. And honestly, through all of the craziness of the past 8 months, I often times feel like HE'S the person that get's thought of the LEAST through all of this. But, in reality...he's probably the most victimized of all of us. As adults, my ex-wife and I can complain about how our lives were destroyed and all the crap that includes. We can talk about my step-daughter and all her issues that I pray are being dealt with as they need to. But, in the mind of a 6yr old, who's known nothing in his life other than his family structure, and constantly being reminded by his mother and father how NOTHING would or could ever change that structure....this has to be HELL.
I've held him in my arms on overnights, as he cried himself to sleep. I've wiped his tears when out of nowhere, in the middle of us playing catch with a football, he just breaks down crying about the whole mess. He's not only lost his family structure and lifestyle...he also lost his beloved grandfather too (F*ck Cancer!!!). So much of the little that he knows of this world, has been taken away from him with very little to absolutely no explanation as to WHY. I know...he's SIX. I'm THIRTY-SIX and can barely wrap my head around this sh*t...how the hell could a six year old make any sense of it? But, I still feel as a parent I owe him that much. Where the hell would I begin? I have no idea. Maybe I don't...no, I'm certain that I don't...not YET at least. But, when? High school? College? At some point, I feel he truly deserves to know why his shot at being raised in a nuclear family, ya know...the type of family 75% of his classmates will never know...was taken from him. Why COULDN'T or DIDN'T Dad and Mom work it out? Did Dad and Mom REALLY do EVERYTHING they could to make it work?
When these questions inevitably come, I will be forced to look my son in the eyes and tell him the truth: NO. We sure the hell didn't. Not even close.
So, why did I bring up the movie Project:Almanac? Because, after picking him up from school this last Friday, my son said something so innocently...so well thought out...so emotionally deep...that it made me proud and ripped my heart from my chest, simultaneously. This movie is about some high school kids who've miraculously built...A TIME MACHINE. So, out of nowhere Marquis Jr. brings up how "awesome it'd be to build a Project Almanac". Me and Uncle Mike talked about time travel and explained to him what it truly meant to "go back and change things". After he gave an example to prove he understood the concepts and principals of traveling back in time to change things...of ALL the things he could have chosen to change...he said....
"Dad....you know what I'd do if we had a Project Almanac machine? I'd go back in time and fix it so that you and mommy were still together. I miss when we were all happy."
I almost lost it. I have absolutely no clue how I DIDN'T start bawling on the spot in that car. He then, later that night told me...
"Yeah, we should really build a Project Almanac. Because, we have fun and stuff but...you and Mommy don't smile like you used to...and you guys laugh different too."
It's crazy to me how intuitive and observant a child can be. They don't see the world through the same filters of political correctness, rules of etiquette and guarded politeness that adults are conditioned to. Nor do they express themselves by those same standards either. But, most importantly...I was taken aback by my son's sentiments because, they weren't about HIM. They were about ME and HIS MOM. He can smell the stench of missing pieces on the both of us. We're covered in it. He sees past our veiled facades of trying to treat this absurdly abnormal circumstance, as normally as possible. And all he wants is for his mom and dad to be HAPPY. The REAL happy that we were and had before all of this started. My son is an amazing kid, and by God's grace we will somehow raise him to be a great man, by cultivating what's already in him.
The biggest challenge for me currently as a parent to Marquis Jr....is knowing the thing that he wants most in this world, is the one thing that I can never give him; and the feeling of powerlessness that comes along with that. Of all my children, he was the one that could have been raised "the right way" because I truly believed that I had found "the right woman"...and now, I can't even give him that life. He'll get the same disjointed, multi-home quasi-family that many kids in this country have. That's what I find myself praying most about the lately...the strength and ability to look my son in the eyes and exude the same paternal stature, as well as instill reassurance in him that in spite of the f*cking mess that our "family" has devolved to...that we WILL still BE GREAT. But...this sh*t is HARD.