"May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young"
-"Forever Young", Bob Dylan
My son, Alex, is the A-Train on his flag football team. The quarterback. He's fast and most games, he is scoring touchdowns. Yesterday wasn't that game. Still- it's fun to watch him play. The other parents always compliment him and ask what we gave him for breakfast on days he is particularly on fire.
I remember when Alex started flag football. It was February 2020 and freezing. He didn't know anyone on his team at all- most of the boys are from another town and he had to walk in without any buddies. I've always admired his ability to do that- to try new things without the cushion of a familiar friend. Alex had been playing soccer for years and I always thought that was "his sport" but then flag football came around. He loves both. The flag football season in 2020 was, for obvious reasons, interrupted. I remember it was freezing when he started but then the season picked up again to finish out in July and it was bakingly hot. I remember being so grateful that he could play again.
Watching Alex run, throw, catch, listen to the coaches, cheer on his team- I had a moment of picturing him as a baby in his little swing. When I had Alex, I took the whole school year off to be with him and it was such valuable and beautiful time. With Megan, I only took from March through the end of the summer and went back to work when she was 6 months. My mom was able to watch her so I knew she would be in great hands but I only got a few months alone with her. Alex and I had a lot of time together when he was a baby. He was utterly adorable- round, with big cheeks and big eyes.
Alex's childhood took a hard turn when he was in first grade and was attacked by a dog while at a friend's house. The dog attacked his face and he's had a lot of medical procedures for the scarring. We had a lawsuit where he had to speak about what happened in a deposition and then later in a courtroom to a judge. He's been unspeakably brave. For a long time, the incident defined our lives. For a long time, I never knew how I could let him go to a friend's house ever again. But slowly, I've been able to trust again and I had to- he deserves a life or friendship and fun and not fear.
This year, Alex is in fifth grade. He has a slew of friends. He is excelling in his academics and he's responsible- he comes home from school and starts his homework without being prompted. He cares about his grades. He's kind. He's funny. He's fast and a good team player. He's coachable. I'm so proud of his courage. And his heart.
This one's for you, Alex. I love you more than I could ever express.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski