had the rare treat yesterday of giving a lecture to 150 first year dental students. I worked on the powerpoint presentation for a solid week, filling it with pictures of Optimus Prime and my adorable children to spice up the otherwise dry-as-matzo material (for those of you who aren’t into public speaking, the rules say if you have a captive audience you must force adorable pictures of your children on them as often as you can).
I like to start most of my lectures by bragging about that which I’m most proud of – my family. So the first slide was of Episode IV’s very first picture with Santa Claus. The picture was taken at a shopping center near where we lived at the time. We have since moved 40 miles away, but we make a point of returning to that same shopping center for Santa pictures every year. When you look at all the Santa pictures over the years you get the nice effect of watching my family grow, year by year, set against the same background.
Years in front of a classroom have made me a veteran of public speaking. My train doesn’t get derailed easily. But yesterday something strange struck me. As the powerpoint animation scrolled through sequential Santa photos, year after year, and came to rest on this year’s picture (from just this past weekend) I was suddenly taken by how *big* my son, Episode V looks. Standing there in front of 150 dental students it was enough to steal my focus entirely away for just one moment. Certainly all the kids are bigger than they were last year (in fact Episode VI wasn’t even born for last year’s photo), but between last year and this, in the span of 12 months, Episode V seemed to go from “little boy” to “big boy” just like that. I composed myself and moved on with the lecture, but the thought stuck with me.
Then this morning, as my first patient was numbing up and I was preparing for the first procedure of the day, a picture of Episode V came up on the screensaver. He couldn’t have been more than 2 in the picture. He was sitting on a merry-go-round horse, eyes wide, cherubic cheeks, face round and full of babyness. Again I was pulled completely out of the moment, fixated this time not on an image of what my son is growing into, but what he used to be and how different it is from who he is today.
Maybe it’s my daughter recently learning to ride her bike. Maybe it’s my dear friend’s son coming home from college for the first time. Maybe it’s my son trying like mad to learn how to read and write. Maybe it’s my baby threatening at any moment to start crawling. Whatever it is, I have been acutely aware lately of how my children are growing out from under me. The cliché is so true – it happens too fast.
Being a DorkDaddy isn’t always about light sabers and superhero t-shirts. Sometimes it’s about driving 40 miles to take your Santa pictures in the same spot every year. Sometimes it’s about misting up in front of your patient and staff, and not being ashamed to love your family fiercely, deeply and openly. There is no shame in a tear shed for the memory of that sweet, sweet child that will never be again. Keep the love flowing, and look forward to many, many more Santa pictures to come.