Boy, was I sold a bill a goods about you two! I know that sounds a bit harsh, so let me explain. When you are expecting a baby, other parents love to tell you about what to expect. They feel it is their role to explain to you the harsh realities of child rearing, from labor and colic to night terrors and the price of college.
Those voices proved to be largely accurate about the early days. There was colic. (We didn’t take it personally, Cameron). There were also the long sleepless nights in a steamy bathroom battling croup, and yes, the toilet-training struggle was as advertised.
Those other early childhood milestones pretty much followed the script too, like shoe-tying, and bike-riding. Stefan, remember the day your friend Jonathan came rolling by the house on a two-wheeler with his family, and how you dissolved into a fit of tears because you hadn’t yet learned to ride one? As I recall, we dried your eyes, grabbed your bike, took the training wheels off and headed to the neighborhood school where you were determined you were going to ride a two-wheeler. And you did it! I won’t forget the grin on your face as you realized I had let go of you and you were cycling on your own.
When you were that little I was still that huge figure in your life who could do no wrong. The guy who always had the answers and could make anything right. That’s the way it is between little boys and their pops.
Cameron, it was the same feeling I had when I took you to a journalists’ convention in Philadelphia when you were 5. Just the two of us. As a little brother myself, I know at that age it seems you’re always too young to do this or that. That’s one of the reasons I brought you. You were so tickled to be on the road with Dad. And I was thrilled to have you with me.
All of which leads me to that bill of goods I was sold. You see, some of the same voices back then that warned me of sleepless nights and projectile vomit, also warned me about surly teenagers and the rebellious years when Dad wouldn’t be so cool. They told me you might defy me. Worst yet, they warned me of those years when you might not even want to be around me in public.
As I waited for those years to come, we launched model rockets in the park, built electric train layouts, and went sledding in Oz Park until all feeling was lost in our toes. We went to hear music, we traveled and played those epic “smack talking” ping-pong matches in the Chelsea loft. We sat around the dinner table long after the meal and discussed politics and history or whatever was in the news. We caught lots of ball games and had good talks during those long, scoreless innings. Even when we disagreed it was with respect and humor.
Boys, I guess I was too busy enjoying your company to realize how quickly time has flown by. You’re 28 and 25 now, and I think we can safely say “those voices” were dead wrong about you two. Not for a moment did I ever feel I lost your respect or so much as a kink in our father-son bond. You are two fine, respectful and compassionate men who I am proud to say I now look up to.
Holt is an anchor of NBC Nightly News
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