On a winter morning Andy and I went to his sports club, Uki Uki, which offers a variety of programs for children. This has been our typical Sunday since he was two. There was snow that day and so we played soccer indoors. His team managed to win one game out of many and my adult team lost them all. I did, however, avoid a face-plant on the hardwood court, a private victory. I was moving with unaccustomed speed and caught a toe on the floor. I became airborne at an angle that guaranteed my head would arrive first, but tucked into a shoulder roll and came up standing – a desperate act executed with surprising agility. After soccer, we moved on to his swimming lesson, which always makes things better. Lose five games; go swim.
Much later in the day, when he had settled into bed to listen to a story, I remembered that this was his last day as a six-year-old. This last year had passed with particular speed. He’d entered elementary school and much of his schedule was already decided. When he was in daycare he had time, but now the distance between our meetings was longer and it exaggerated his rapid growth. Pants that were too long one day were above his ankles the next. He seemed to gain kilos overnight. Good that we still had his sports club on Sundays.
“Tomorrow you’ll be seven.”
He nodded his head. He always knew when his birthday would arrive, anticipating each, as he looked ahead to adulthood . When he turned four he said, “Soon I’ll be able to drive a car.” I laughed then, but now thought he was right — soon he would be driving.
“We had kind of a rough day playing soccer today” I said. “Did you see me fall?”
He nodded, “Kakuii, daddy, Ultraman mittai.” (You looked cool, like Ultraman.)
I picked up a book and began reading one of his favorite stories, Dr. Seuss’s “The Big Brag.” He stopped me and asked about the meaning of “brag” and I used the word “ibatteru” to explain.
“Do you ever do that — brag?”
He shook his head, “Not much, how about you?”
“Often,” I said.
“Yes, I brag about you. Andy can play soccer. Andy can swim. Andy can ice skate. Andy can rock climb….It’s OK, isn’t it? That I’m your biggest fan?”
He nodded yes.
We went back to reading the story and soon he was asleep. In the morning, he’d be seven and one year closer to driving, but he was already racing toward a distant horizon, somewhere in the future. I had to recognize the inevitable, that there’d be a time when I was no longer around and our paths would not cross again. Still, if he had a child as good as mine, one that kept him company and held his hand on occasion, then I knew he would be happy wherever he went.