As I’ve stated in the past, part of the reason why I keep this journal is so that you’ll have the ability to, some day, take a look back at what I’ve written and figure your old man out. Think of it as a kind of form of time travel, if you would. You can see yourself and our life through my eyes at the time. Or maybe you can just read this and confirm how much of a nutjob I am. Regardless, I full expect that someday you will have full access to this journal and will eventually stumble across this entry.
You’re ten years old today.
I can hardly believe it, to be honest. Ten years. I can still remember being that young, and it doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago. It’s true, though. You’ve now lived an entire decade.
And what a crazy decade it has been.
I remember the day you were born. At the time we were living with your “Uncle Cheese” (and in case you’ve forgotten, you called him that when you started talking because for some reason you couldn’t pronounce “Steve.” Then again, you also called sandwiches “wumf” so Steve got off lucky) crammed into one bedroom of his two bedroom house. We had our bed in there, a chest of drawers, a bookshelf (if memory serves) and your crib. My computer (housing a second hand 386 machine that was running Windows 3.1 and America Online at the time) was actually on the back porch. I was working for Exxon as a cashier in one of their gas stations and your Mother was, I believe, out of work at that time. She stopped working about 2 months before you were born, if I recall correctly.
That first year was a pretty rough one for us. We moved back to Winter Haven, but the apartment that your Grandfather found for us turned out to be located right in the middle of a section that we later came to find out was called “Crack Hill.” We had drug dealers and prostitutes living right across the street from us, and we never really felt safe there. I spent that entire winter, one of the coldest I have ever encountered here in Florida, working in a factory that had no insulation, metal walls with holes in them, and a big loading bay door that didn’t close. We were unloading cheap plastic bowls from a line, and then using razor blades to remove excess plastic (“trim”) from them. The scar I have on my left thumb is from those days. “ranney” has a few too. We worked there at the same time.
Of course, the roughest part was the time period we thought you had a chance of becoming mentally disabled. The doctors thought that the fontanelle’s in your head (the fissures between areas of your skull that allow it to expand) weren’t fully formed. If this had been true, your brain would have eventually started to be compressed inside as it grew inside of your skull. You’d have been retarded. We spent months living under this impression, thinking the only hope you had was a major operation that essentially would have involved cracking your skull open.
Then we went to see the pediatric neurologist.
He looked at your X-Rays and MRI’s. He studied them closely. Then he took a measuring tape and measured the circumference of your head. He made a note on a chart, then asked if he could measure mine. I allowed him to do so, and he made another notation on the chart. He turned the clipboard he was holding towards us, and it showed a bell curve graph. He pointed to the solid wavy line in the middle of the page and said “This line represents the size of a normal persons head in proportion to their bodies as they age. This dot here” he said, indicating a space near the beginning of the line, “is about the size that Alex’s head should be. This is how big his head actually is.”
He pointed to the first dot he had made, which was noticeably higher on the page.
“This,” he said, pointing to another spot on the solid line,” is about how large YOUR head should be, Mr. McGreevy.” His pen moved up the page, to the second dot he had made. “And this is how large it actually is.”
Both my dot and yours were roughly the same distance from the “standard” location on the line.
The doctor set down his clipboard. “You have a big head. Your son inherited it from you. There is nothing medically wrong with this child. You two make beautiful babies. Go make some more.”
Obviously, we didn’t do that…But at that very moment months of anxiety and fears were gone in a flash. We walked in there prepared to face the worst, and came out walking on air. It was a wonderful day, and one of the rare moments of true happiness that we felt in those times.
I’m not saying our life was the hardest by any means or stretch of the imagination. We ate, with the assistance of food stamps. We had a place to live. We had electricity and water. We had a bed to sleep in. We had clothes. But it wasn’t paradise. I lost my job in the plastics factory and actually spent a few months unemployed while your Mother worked at the Winter Haven Hospital. I finally got a part time job at Staples (thanks to your Mother nagging me into being a pest to them until they hired me) and was working there when you turned one.
The next year was significantly better. Due to the fact that all but two of the employees in the Electronics department were fired for stealing I was promoted to Full Time relatively soon after I started working there. We moved to a much nicer apartment right off of Lake Howard, where we could look out over the lake and you and your Mother often went to feed the ducks. I got a new computer (and IBM Aptiva, which was quite advanced for the time) and we got a new (used) car. The only real down side of that period was when the apartment we were living in got infested with German Cockroaches. It was really disgusting, and horribly embarrassing. Especially when we took a bunch of gift baskets to your Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy’s house for Christmas and roaches came out of them.
Dammit. I wrote a LOT more here, but just lost it trying to wrap this in a cut tag.
So I’ll cut right back to the punch line.
Thank you, son. Having you in my life has been a joy and an honor. I cannot honestly say that, at 23, I wanted children. I wanted to go to college and move to New York to be an actor. I wanted a lot of things, but none of them had anything to do with having kids. Looking back, though, I wouldn’t change a thing. You’ve given me a drive that I never would have found on my own. You’ve brought out some of the best in me. I’m lucky just to know you, and even more lucky to be your Father.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years has to offer.
Happy Birthday, my little goof ball.
I love you.