Posted on November 20, 2018
by Steve Janowick

Something about the young, male heart and mind.

He’s very self-centered in his youth.  He wakes up every day thinking about his own life and contemplating his own future.  The world, and all that’s in it, spins on his axis.  Whenever he does think or feel about the world outside himself, it’s usually in relation to how that externality affects his station in life.  Not nearly fully developed emotionally, the young man probably loves himself more than anybody or anything else. He’s not an unfeeling, bad guy.  He’s just an under-developed guy. Some would say it’s a genetic, instinctual trait-and I would agree. There’s truth to the whole ‘lone-wolf out on the hunt’ disposition that is ingrained in the young, male DNA code.  

And this code establishes priorities.  

I can distinctly remember being at some sort of a stuffy family party in my early 20’s.  I was my usual snarky, cynical self. Didn’t really want to be there. At some point, an older couple started passing their newborn baby around for everyone to slobber over.  I wanted no parts of it. I tried to casually excuse myself from this estrogen-fueled semi-circle in the room, but it was too late. Of course, when it came to my turn, I not only had to hold this lump of dribbling flesh, but I also had to endure the accompanying speech from the new parents that always goes with it.  You know the one. “You think you know what love is? You’ll never understand until you’re a parent. Blah, blah, blah…“

Whatever.  Just get me home to my dog and my football game that I’m missing, by the way, because I’m here holding your baby and listening to your speech.  

That was me then, and this is me now.  Sitting here writing this, reminiscing about the day, about ten years after that party, that my baby boy was born.  And if I ever run into that couple I owe them a big apology. Because they were right. As much as I hate to admit it-they we’re very right.  Even a hard-ass man like myself can’t deny the love he feels for his own kid. Something divine happens within him the first time he holds his son and looks into his eyes.  An unexplainable mechanism that was dormant seconds before is suddenly triggered. And life, from that moment until his last breath, will never be the same for that man.

It’s the ultimate priority changer.  That once selfish young man at the party?  He now wouldn’t hesitate, for a split second, to jump in front of a moving bus to save his boy.  He’d give everything up for him. His buddies, his parents and even the woman that helped make him, all become secondary.  He feels a lump grow in his throat just from watching him breathe-holding his chest as it expands and contracts. Reveling in the miracle that is his son.    

And if you think it diminishes when they get older-you couldn’t be more wrong.  

I was having lunch with my boy last week as he was sitting across from me in the booth.  He’s now a big, awkward, deep-voiced, 20-year old who has trouble communicating and who drives me bat-shit nuts sometimes.  But as the conversation started to drag, I caught myself feeling those same feelings. As we sat in silence and ate, I just stared at him.  And, out of nowhere, I felt that uncontrollable rush of love come over me. The unexplainable mechanism was triggered and, suddenly, that big, hairy bastard sitting across from me was my little, baby boy again.  He looked at me like I had ten heads when I started to get choked up. He then asked me if I was okay. I told him he’d understand when he becomes a father, and that only then would he know what the greatest love of all is.   

He just shrugged me off and asked if we could leave so he could get home to play his video games.

Oh, the circle of life.

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