Ok. I’m a big guy. Shaved head and a few tattoos. I typically look like I’m pissed off. Eyebrows furrowed, slight frown and my pale skin often flushes red over my face and scalp. I have been known to frighten people. I don’t mean to. I’m really a big softy. I googly talk to dogs and cats. I cry during sad movies. I adore my wife and kids. Those minions rule my world.
The younger minion came home from school last week quivering with excitement, a smile wider than the sun. His words dissolved together beaming through at warp speed. Without delving into all the minute details, he and the girl he is sweet on sat next to each other passing notes in class.
”Oh really?” I said with concern he might get caught.
“Daaaad, the teacher said we couldn’t talk. He didn’t say we couldn’t pass notes!” Sounded logical right? I allowed him to proceed.
Apparently one of the sketchily permitted pieces of paper was a message reading something to the effect of, “I have a crush on you.” Followed by secret instructions on how to succeed while playing Minecraft. (Nothing spells Junior high romance in full bloom quite like cheat codes.) The two rule breakers made plans to meet up at the school dance that night and spin fandango together.
Minion floated on air impatiently watching the clock until the time came to leave for the gymnasium. After dropping him off, the older minion, my wife and I went for a quick bite to eat and ran a few light errands. The entire evening was spent discussing how excited and terrified we were of the unceasing tsunami of the teenage years growing ever closer. First crushes leading to first loves and the inevitable first heartbreak.
Hearts palpitating and lungs trembling, we pulled into the parking lot to pick him up from his night of budding romance. Only the quiet, sullen boy with his head down and tears in his eyes was not who we expected. Silent the entire drive home, I reached into the back seat and held his hand. Obviously he didn’t want to talk about it, so I tried to reassure him without words and let him know if he needed me, I am always there.
I can protect my children from a lot of things. Like I said, I’m a large and scary looking dude. My bark is loud, and the only time I can ever see myself biting is if somebody messes with my kids. But heartbreak? I can’t stand in front of that speeding train.
I wouldn’t go back to puberty if you paid me. I remember all too well the chest cracking pains of love’s cruel knives when things don’t work out. Would I take the pain away from him if I could? Yes and no. As much as watching him hurt kills me, it’s a necessary process for his self-evolution. It will make him stronger in time. It will make him appreciate future relationships down the line. He will learn to cherish that wonderful feeling while it lasts and absorb the lessons showing him how to nurture and kindle those embers so they might last.
When adult love appears, all of these adolescent heartbreaks will serve him better than if I erased and removed them from his history. So for now, I will be here waiting for him to need me. When he calls, I will answer. I may not always have the best advice, but it will always be from the heart.