I said I would never do it.
Before my son was born, I even wrote an essay in which I acknowledged that not doing it would likely be the hardest part of parenting.
And yet the entire time I was in Vancouver and missing him, I did it.
I spent my entire time away imagining and planning Graham’s future for him. Every time I saw a young man, I started to idly wonder if he were the kind of man Graham might become and before long, I was lost in my thoughts and schemes for Graham’s future and worse, my hopes and dreams for myself.
We were barely buckled into the seats in the plane when the sound of the captain’s voice started me imagining a future Graham, tall and blond in his pilot’s uniform. I missed the entire flight introduction because I was too busy envisioning future versions of Rob and I sitting on a plane (upgraded to first class, natch!) under his command.
Graham would lay out the flight plans for the passengers in a strong confident voice and then acknowledge the presence of a very special passenger: his mother, the woman responsible for introducing him to flying when he was just a baby.
The present-day me got all misty-eyed just thinking about it. In fact, I damn near stood up and started bowing to fellow passengers, who I imagined would be clapping and sighing with deep appreciation over what a wonderful mother I was.
And it just got worse from there.
At the Vancouver Aquarium, I mused to Rob about how fascinating a field I thought marine biology was. Within seconds, I lost myself in a reverie involving he and I and Graham, some twenty years on.
In my mind’s eye the three of us were speeding across a choppy sea in a small boat being expertly commandeered by my handsome son. Shaggy and earnest, Graham raised his voice to be heard above the whipping winds, while Rob and I listened intently, hanging off his every word.
I’m pretty excited about this new project I’ve been developing out here, Mom and Dad. I think it’s a real breakthrough that will save the lives of thousands of whales.
By the time we left the aquarium that day, the whole scenario had been played out countless times in my mind and was so real to me that I couldn’t resist smiling magnanimously in the direction of the mother Beluga and her calf and and thinking: You’re welcome, my animal sister, you’re welcome.
Clearly I needed a drink, but even the slightly dingy atmosphere of the pub we visited that night couldn’t dim the limelight in which I was certain Graham would bask.
Two guys with a guitar and some bongos did such a great job on “Like A Rolling Stone” that Rob and I got to chatting about how Dylan’s introduction of the electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival devastated his followers who saw it as a symbolic declaration of the end of 1960s innocence.
Almost immediately my mind’s eye saw a wild-haired future Graham onstage, guitar in hand, ushering in a new era of politics and music to thousands of adoring fans, while I, his manager, sat backstage atop a speaker. “Sure there might be some initial boos,” I would acknowledge sagely to the gathering press. “But that’s only because it takes time for great genius to be revealed.”
If the young musicians in the Gastown pub were alarmed by my enthusiastic standing ovation, they didn’t let on.
So, yeah, even though I said I wouldn’t confuse Graham’s future hopes and dreams with my own, I’m learning that’s easier said than done.
I can’t help but be excited about the opportunities that Graham has laid out before him, just as I know my parents were excited for me. I can’t help but be thrilled by the wide range of choices he will be blessed with and proud that I will help provide them.
I can’t help but be inspired by the thought of a blank slate, even if it is not mine upon which to write.
It is fruitless to try and stop fantasizing about your child’s future, I have determined. So I am not going to even try anymore.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fetch Graham. He’s in the next room tormenting our cat, who clearly doesn’t appreciate the boy who will one day become the veterinarian responsible for eliminating all pain and suffering of cats and dogs the world over.