I have a four year old son.

I have a four year old son. He’s a bright and energetic kid with the cutest smile you’ve ever seen, and he’s also the kind of rough, unthinking child who would pounce on your midsection, bust your scrotum at the seam and send your testicles running down the inside of your legs.

This is a primal fear of mine, especially when discussions of a vasectomy arise between Jess and I. The thought of a scalpel down there doesn’t scare me, nor the burning cauterization and sutures. What worries me is the wave of helpless post-op panic I’ll experience when the anesthesia wears off and I consider recovery near a kid who shoots around the house like the possessed Gadarene madman and has no real working awareness or regard for other people’s genitalia.

This is the stuff of real life, so I suppose I shouldn’t be talking about it. Religious sensibilities may be offended. So I’ll just say this about Ryan Hobbs: I hope he never changes.

He’s gentle in his heart even if he’s a scrapper on the outside. He speaks with great tenderness to his baby brother. At the library this week he took a shy kid by the hand and led him through the toddlers’ activity so the other guy wouldn’t feel left out. And this weekend he wrapped his arms around my neck (after he’d leaped on me while I was napping on the couch) and said, “I want to hug you, Dad.”

He squeezed tight and didn’t let go for what seemed like a long time. I could feel his heart beating close to mine and was surprised (again) by the pulses and electricity of his embrace, by the waves of radioactive affection that swept over me as my little boy held my neck. Just for an instant he took a break from all his juice spills and Legos all over the floor and jumping on beds and pissing on the toilet seat and getting crumbs on the furniture and making crazy engine explosion noises with Matchbox cars and getting smudgy fingerprints on the TV and computer and walls and drawing alien bug faces and saying “Look Dad! It’s you!” and running like a streaker on steriods all over the place — took a break from all his childhood masculine madness to say, Dad, I love you, in a way that made sense to him in that time and place.

It was a father’s golden millisecond in eternity, and I wanted it to last forever, this glimpse of feeling God’s love for all His little children.

I hope I remember moments like this as I grow old, as the possibilities of my life wilt.

I probably won’t. But I hope I do.


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