Maybe it was wrong to forbid him to play with guns. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, like not hitting or spanking the way my own parents were raised. Sure I was a byproduct of growing up through the sixties, although I was only a flower child til the flowers in my hair wilted.
Of course I realized it was futile when he started telling stories out loud to himself at the age of two that were audibly peppered with explosions and pops and all manner of violent imaginations. And then when he chewed his ginger cookie into an unmistakable pistol it should really have been clear.
But I stuck to my guns. No guns, not even the historic model of a bayonet from Williamsburg.
And he grew into the gentlest of sons, attentive to his younger sisters, adoring and admiring of his brothers. Able to strike up a conversation with anyone, empathize and actually go help tsunami, hurricane, and earthquake victims around the world.
So how strange to flash forward to this week when my 26 year old son was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Marine Corps at a small ceremony in a lush, flowery corner of Central Park. How odd to see him walk that particular way, stiff and serious, poured smartly into the dress blues and the impeccable white pants. I briefly thought of pretending it was Halloween but couldn't. This was his moment, the culmination of years of wishing, convincing me, and training for this moment.
However much it makes sense that this ragged environmentalist has become a counter-insurgency advocate; however much I admire his physical and intellectual accomplishment, it's still hard to hand over the first born to a power greater than us and worry that the bravado or incompetence or marksmanship of someone else could some day take him out.
For now, worry trumps pride, but I'm trying.