January 17: I Can Do It Without You

Letter: K
CD Number: 30
Track Number: 20

Song: “I Can Do It Without You” by Kaiser Chiefs off the album Yours Truly, Angry Mob

My son sat on the floor, numerous plastic parts spread in front of him. It rather looked as though he were a giant inspecting the remnants of a plane crash.
I had bought him the model airplane set a few months ago, anticipating it was an activity he and I could do together. Time slipped by and before we could get to work on it, he entered a mid-childhood independence seeking stage. It had begun slowly. A request to pack his own lunch here, a protest against being tucked in there. Thus, it had snuck up on me until today when I found him pulling the box down off the shelf.
“You want to work on that today?” I asked, already anticipating a day of making my too large fingers awkwardly force together tiny brightly colored plane bits.
“Yes. Alone.” He responded politely, but firmly. I made him do it in the living room with newspaper spread out over all the carpet, but otherwise, I told him that was fine.
However, I could not help but check-in. Every ten minutes or so, I would swing through on some imaginary task and ask, “Need anything, kiddo?”
He would shoo me away without looking up, “I’m a big boy, Dad. I can do this.” I would nod, flipping him the diagramed directions, the glue, or a random piece of fuselage, wing or landing gear.
So it went through the day, with me trying to get involved and him remaining steadfastly opposed to it. My fingers were thrilled, but, I admit, I was a little sad. I tell myself I am ready for the fight for independence come the teen years, but at seven? It caught me to unaware to steel my emotions.
In the end, he did it. I never once applied glue, stickers, or paint, but there sat a completed bi-plane on our living room floor. Perhaps a bit off here or there, especially when it came to the application of the stickers, but complete nonetheless.
“Welcome to obsolescence,” I thought, as I peered into the room from the foyer.
He glimpsed me and came running, dragging me to the carpet to show off his work. “Dad, dad, what do you think?” he queried rapidly, voice quivering with excitement.
“Looks great,” I said, proud despite feeling a bit useless. “You did a really great job.”
“Thanks Dad! And thanks for all the help.”
“I didn’t help at all, kiddo, you did it all yourself.”
“Nah,” his spoke absentmindedly as he “flew” the plane in the air. “You bought it for me and you kept giving me hints whenever I was stuck. I probably could’ve done it alone, but I was glad you were here. You made it easier… and a lot more fun.”
With that, he was making propeller noises and charging from the room, plane as high above his head as his arms could reach, leaving me to ponder the many ways, good and bad, your children can absolutely break your heart.

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