Ha! I see you! You thought you could hide from me?

I catch you standing by the car outside our house, ready for your first day in kindergarten.  Frozen in my mind, you are four years old again.

You are looking at me with a confident smile. Your blond hair is sticking out from under a blue hat. You are wearing a backpack over a red jacket. With your first pair of jeans and your little coat, you look like a tiny man.

Your little backpack is crammed full with your lunch box and your best buddy. The long-armed gibbon monkey will be needed when time comes for a nap.

***

That autumn morning, it struck me that you had grown up so fast. Just a little while earlier, you were a baby, sucking your thumb, wearing diapers, waking your parents up every single night. Then, in some way, you figured things out; how to walk without help and how to eat with your own spoon. 

***

You want to play again? OK, go hide!

It took me a while, but there you are. It’s another autumn day and you have changed a lot. But although you are a bit taller than I am and wearing a beard, you can’t fool me. You’ve got the same smile, the same blue eyes and the same blond, unruly hair.

This time, you are holding a four year old boy by the hand. The two of you are slowly walking to the playground, talking about its attractions: the swings, the sandbox, and the slide that gives him a thrill each time he chutes all the way down to the ground. 

Listening to your voice makes him feel safe and relaxed. 

You are carrying a tote bag with some snacks, a warm child’s coat, a bottle of fruit juice, and some sandbox toys.

The boy inquires about his mother, and you gently remind him that she is at home, taking a nap with his baby sister.   

***

Again? With another 35 years’ leap? 

Nah, thanks, but I’ll pass. You play with your son now. 

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
15 days ago

So who is the old man of the title? Who is the narrator and what is his relationship to the man?

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
11 days ago

You perfectly portrayed the past, present, and future of fatherhood. I really appreciate our parents. Very well done. 

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
10 days ago

You’re always welcome, Christer.

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
11 days ago

Your picture and title first grabbed my attention; the story fulfilled those two early promises! Your old man is rich with memories and with wisdom, watching the passing of time, but keeping one foot in the present. Great work, Christer!

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