Or, Apparently it is Not Okay to use Certain Terms of Endearment in Public*, even though they most certainly are not even close to ugly, or even average, and anyone could tell that was the case just by seeing how good looking their Father is, and who was obviously using the word in a humorous ironic/oxymoron/jumbo shrimp kind of way.
Anyway... I don't carry a wallet, just one of those money clips (eternally empty) with 2 slots sewed so tight I have to chisel out my driver's licence, but that's the whole point because otherwise men, like my Dad, would shove everything they own and walk around with a leather and receipt-paper brick in their pocket. No joke, he still has 25 year old pictures of our prom dates in there, grocery lists for the Safeway that was torn down in '92, and business cards, blood donor cards, membership cards, dental appointment cards.... There's cash in there too, but not the spending kind -- the lucky dollar bill with 6 two's, the lucky dollar bill with the full house, the $2 bill....
So I don't carry pictures of The Wife or the Boys, and it's not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed, I just don't like sitting on the photo album/rolodex. I also stay away from carrying pictures because I lose too much of the day: one glance at The Wife and I'm stunned, swept off in reverie, amazed that this gorgeous woman will actually walk into our house and ask what's for dinner. And pity the unfortunate soul that sees the school photos on my notebook, because that uncontrollable swell of boast just takes over, and I can talk about Uglies #1,2, and 3 for hours.
We get in the habit of using phrases or words to describe certain people or events in our lives, and that word, Honey or Bubba or That Summer, is a shortcut to all the memories and emotions we associate with that person or time in our life, and they are released and sometimes overwhelm us when the word is mentioned. Or we use the word to mean so much more than the letters spell out, there are paragraphs and stories and deep bonds behind behind the words we choose to call or describe those most important to us.
My Boys are my Pride and Joy. That is a description men have used for eons to label any and all, from sons to sports cars. It might have just started as a habit with me, show off the pictures and use the phrase, but now I have come to realize those words personify 1 and 2 for me. #1 has always been a warm, loving, bundle of laughter and kisses. We chose his name because it meant laughter, he smiled and giggled at 3 months, and I could never help laughing when he cried that oh-so-mad cry babies do. He has never shied from a hug and a kiss, except now when I pick him up from school, and has always been able to bounce back almost instantly from any rough time. This is the kid that never learned to whisper and never thought to hold a grudge. He's the boy getting yelled at for something but forgives and forgets before the scolding is over, and he is already on the the next minute of life, wondering which is better, DC or Marvel, what skateboard should he get, hey Dad what's for dinner, and did I show you my new molar? I can never not smile when I see him or think of him, and there is a burst of Joy when I think of how blessed I am to be his Dad.
So if #1 is joy, #2 must be pride... it's not that he doesn't make me happy, it's that he reminds me I was given a second chance on the whole family situation, and I get to be a full time, morning to night, 365 days a year Dad. He is proof I could be a father and do more than the fun weekend stuff, I could help someone learn and grow daily, I wouldn't miss anything he went through and would always be there as soon as he needed me. Of course this meant being there for the barf at midnight, and the fifth week of vacation "I'm boooored" whine, and the endless repetition of mundane family life (the sentence I have said billions of times in my life: "Get your hands out of your... a) mouth, b) nose, c) pants or food"**). I am immensely proud of #2 as a person, a student, and a son, and proud of how others look to him as a brother, friend, and classmate. He is clever and quick, smart and eager, goofy and spastic, and while he wants to be quietly cool and tough, he is still sensitive and silly.
And #3? I guess it's hard to be the littlest brother, you aren't first, everything has been done before so you struggle to be original. The comparisons start right away -- he has #1's cheeks, #2 was crawling by now, look at your brothers, go ask your brothers.... We see a lot of the other two in #3, and of course they are his primary teachers and examples. He seems a lot like #1 physically and in temperament, but now has started doing #2's nutty faces and actions, so he'll blend it all together and make it his own. I just hope we're ready for it. We've always said there will be that phone call: #1 is in trouble for getting the beer and starting the party, #2 is in trouble for fighting with 1 to stop the party, and #3 will be on the roof, stripped down to boxers and football helmet, and ready to jump over the hedge and into the neighbor's pool. ...But #3 is our Heart, our healing and our grace -- he is the seal, the sum, he is the inexorable bond that makes us, as a family, One. I enjoy #3, adore #3, , look into the eyes of #3 and melt. I am already sad knowing someday #3 will leave.
ok, now we're back in hallmark territory.
**and yes, believe it or not, sometimes all four in the same breath, for the same child.
*and certainly not that one, Bro, at least not until they're quite a bit older.