I met myself for lunch today.
Pre-children, my eyes had a different look to them: open, naive, trusting. I shook my hand firmly and sat down for a turkey sandwich and a quick chat.
My younger self was already analyzing me. Hehe. As if my demeanor and body language would give him everything he would need to know about his life over the next 8 years.
I smiled and waited.
He smirked at me. My wife is right, my smirk can be a little infuriating...charming, to be sure, but infuriating all the same.
He said "ok, so...it's hard, it sucks sometimes, but its worth it right?"
He wanted to encapsulate the experience. Categorize it so he was prepared and then face it head-first. I'll admit, I'm a little impressed by me.
The waiter came by with our food and I took a drink before answering, allowing myself a moment to collect my thoughts.
I said "well, you're going to have two kids, a boy and a girl". He smiles. He always wanted that.
"Your son will be a lot like you. Impulsive, intelligent and funny. He will also have your talent for finding, getting into and getting out of trouble."
We both laugh. It's a little surreal.
He says "that's pretty cool. What does he look like?"
I forgot how important that was. Before you have kids, it's all about who the child will look like and which personality traits they'll inherit. I don't think I have even considered those things in years.
"You'll see. I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise." I say. "Just know that they are both beautiful and incredible kids. You're going to have a rough time when their teenagers." We share a smile.
"Your daughter is autistic."
I watch his eyes turn inward. A million thoughts all at once. Disappointment, fear, insecurity, hopelessness, and a little bit of anger.
Sad. I expected more from me.
"She will also be the single most important thing to ever happen to you. She will redefine your priorities, alter your perception of the world, and open your heart to more love than you thought possible.
Until now, you have been very guarded because so many people hurt you both intentionally and unintentionally. She will love you so fiercely and so genuinely that you won't remember what it was like to not have her in your heart.
She will make you a new person and you will love her with every fiber of your being."
He sits silently for a bit, watching me eat. I give him time to think.
As I finish my sandwich, I look up at him again. He is staring off into the crowd, tears in his eyes. There is a little girl a few tables away talking to her Daddy.
"One day." I say, "One day she will talk to you, share her ideas, and be just like that girl. Just don't give up on her."
He stands up. I rise with him.
"Thank you" he says and holds out his hand.
I gently push it aside and give him a brief hug.
"My pleasure. Have fun...I did." I say with a smile as I walk away.