Last weekend was my weekend with my son Adam. In the course of the weekend, Adam made a disparaging remark about someone, probably a Republican, calling them a homophobe. My reaction was three-fold.
First, I realized from the context that he knew what a homophobe was, and that the person was indeed a homophobe. And that my son does not approve of homophobes.
Two, I realized that various people have helped me raise a child with good values.
Three, that he's probably ready to talk about his favorite uncle's sexuality. I have a feeling he's already figured it out.
My ex-girlfriend and I, who share custody of our 12-year-old son (almost 13!), switch off weekends with him. He likes this. Before his weekends with me, he makes sure that he is going to see people in our lives that he loves spending time with. He loves hanging out with my old friend Dan. He loves when we run downstate to see Ron and his family-- Adam and Ron's son Lex are great buddies. And of course it gives the dads, two guys well into their forties, a chance to watch Repo Man, and then get out for a couple of libations...
But every weekend he's at my home, he reminds me to invite Uncle Jim over.
My friend Jim, or Uncle Jim, as my son Adam calls him, is not actually his uncle. Like Dan and Ron, he is another person I met at Eastern Illinois University while attending there in the early and mid eighties. Jim is more of a brother to me than my actual brothers, and more of an uncle to Adam than my actual brothers. I don't know how I would have raised my son without him. He's been: my counselor when life's been rough, willing to listen to me as long as I needed to talk; a friend every damned day of my life: a fellow Trekkie; someone who's adamant about using the word of the day copiously; a babysitter when I needed one-- even changing diapers!; and probably my closest friend in this world.
Another time, I'll tell the story of how Jim and I became friends-- it all started with him asking of me, to the person he was hanging at a party with, "Who is that asshole?" It was quite an ostentatious beginning.
Since Jim got bumped up to management with his graphic design firm, and started working nights, it's more difficult to get together with him. But Sunday last weekend, Adam and I got out to brunch with Jim. And I took this picture of he and Adam, and we answered the question, what changes in 13 years?
The Answer?: It's who has the thick blonde hair now.
Happy 42nd Birthday, Uncle Jim. Thanks for nearly a quarter century of friendship. Thanks for helping me raise a great kid. And thanks in advance for many years of friendship to follow.