When I was a pup of 6 years experience in this world, I made a promise I honestly believed I had the ability to keep. I promised my father that I'd stay 6 forever. Until the end of days, a 6-year-old boy; wide-eyed and pudgy-faced.
Now a father myself, I have the knowledge of what it means to believe in the way that my dad believed me then. He never once told me I couldn't keep that promise, that it's an impossibility. He never once laughed and said, "Sure, son, sure you will." There wasn't an ounce of condescension in him when I would repeat again and again that "I am going to be your 6-year-old son forever."
This is just one of the reasons he was, and remains, a brilliant father. Because often, the best qualities of a person exist in the moments when nothing is said, when a smile and a hug, and maybe a tear are all one releases into the world.
I have done my damnedest to keep my promise to stay 6 forever as best I can as a 14, 25 and now 37-year-old man. I believe that a part of me remains frozen in time, in 1982; a wide-eyed, pudgy-faced 6-year-old boy with tiny arms still wrapped tightly around my daddy's neck, cheek pressed tightly against cheek. Yes, in fact, I am certain of it, a vital part of me is very much still in that moment. And will always be. Because I'm not one to break promises.
When my young pups make similar promises now; to always be my babies, to always want a cuddle from daddy, to go far but never stray, I smile and I hug them, and maybe a tear will fall, because a part of me is freezing them right there, locking those words and looks and love away forever so that they will always be able to keep their promises too.
*This post originally appeared on Out With The Kids.
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