Five years ago, JP was about to turn four and I was 45 years old. Tomorrow, at nine years of age, JP will be so very different than he was at age four. And me, well, I'll be pretty much the same person at 50 as I was at 45. Maybe a little heavier with reading glasses nearby at all times but, still, the same person.
For him, I'm sure it seems like it's taken forever - a lifetime - for him to grow from a four year old going to school at Children's House to a nine year old in the 2nd grade at University School. For me, it's the exact opposite. It's trite, I know, but it does seem like only yesterday that JP was four years old and we were listening to music in the kitchen every morning at our Elliott Avenue house, taking weekend walks and sitting at our table in the back at Bongo Java. Yesterday.
How can five years of passed time feel so differently to two people? Two people, mind you, who have lived in large part the same life for five years, in the same place. Strange.
I went for a walk tonight after everyone was in bed. Lost in my thoughts and remembrances as I walked across Belmont's campus after an evening rainstorm, I smiled to myself as I cued up the songs (on Spotify and in my mind) of JP's youth. Avett Brothers - Left on Laura, Left on Lisa (the original song JP and I shared a love for and the one that will always, always remind me of him); Barenaked Ladies - Snacktime, Bad Day and Hear Come the Geese (we wore this album out every morning at breakfast in our old house for so long, often times as I danced around the kitchen with him laughing in my arms); Elizabeth Mitchell - So Glad You're Here; The Band - The Weight; Green Day - Novacaine; Rilo Kiley - Smoke Detector and Breakin' Up (we wore out that album - Under the Blacklight - with Uncle Carley); and Caspar Babypants - Itsy Bitsy Spider (it's catchy, I promise). And many, many more. Always, it comes back to the music.
As I walked tonight, I couldn't help but remember how much time JP and I had spent together at Belmont U, inside and outside, and the surrounding neighborhood, when he was 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old.
Stomp rockets on the old soccer field; playing "college" upstairs in the student center, night after night after dinner; exploring the bell tower; playing soccer while he pretended to be Landon Donovan when the tennis courts were still adjacent to the soccer field; rolling his soccer ball off the awnings outside the cafeteria on Belmont Blvd.; watching college students play music inside the cafeteria on Belmont Blvd. on our after dinner walks; JP toddling up to college kids, at night, sitting on the soccer filed playing guitars and sitting down with them to their immense delight; JP getting impromptu soccer lessons from a college student playing soccer with friends on the soccer field; playing in "the Sports Czar's office; many, many breakfasts at Bongo Java; and countless walks through the neighborhood while he slept in the Baby Jogger City Elite stroller (sitting sadly, forlornly in the basement as I type this).
All of those times and activities have passed by so quickly, gone forever, but certainly not forgotten. Not by me, anyway.
And no, almost, JP is nine years old.
He's a sweet kid. Sensitive and caring. He's kind to others. He's a leader at school. Responsible. He loves church and is really taking seriously the Sunday school class leading up to his first Communion in a little more than a month. He's a good athlete who loves sports (just like his old man). He's smart. He's conscientious. He loves playing Madden Mobile and NBA Jam on his iPad (and Joe loves to watch him). He loves all things Vanderbilt. He loves the Predators. He loves reading. He loves collecting baseball, football, basketball and hockey cards and lately, Pokemon cards. He's into trying new foods (His New Year's resolution was to try sushi with me). He's a got hell of an arm (baseball) and big leg (soccer). He plays his ass off on the basketball court, especially defensively. He would watch sports on television all day long if we would let him (which we don't). He loves and misses Uncle Carley (Meade) and treasures every stolen minute he gets to spend with her. He loves his friends and sleepovers with his friends. He's his daddy's boy, typically siding with me, while Joe sides with his mommy.
And my God, does he ever love his little brother. He is so patient, almost always, with Joe. He plays hockey upstairs, in the playroom, with Joe. He reads to Joe. He lets Joe sleep between he and whatever friend is sleeping over, all three on the floor of the playroom in sleeping bags. He is helping "coach" Joe's baseball team (as my assistant). Every Saturday or Sunday morning, he and Joe crawl into our bed at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and he lets Joe watch him intently as he plays Madden Mobile or NBA Jam on his iPad. He and Joe watch Dude Perfect videos on JP's iPad and take turns picking which video to watch. JP is Joe's superhero, literally.
I've been blessed with so much in my life I don't deserve, for sure. I've already had almost twice as much time with JP on this earth as my dad had with me. For that, I am eternally grateful.
When you read this someday, JP, know this, my son - I am proud of you. You've everything I could ever have wanted my oldest son to be. To coach you and watch you play sports is amazing. To listen to you and your brother, Joe, play together upstairs makes me so happy. I know you'll always look out for Joe and your mother. And I love you.