It’s the eyes. You have wonderfully expressive eyes.
I see wonder when your eyes chance upon information. Television, tablets, books, magazines. Your gaze is unflinching, your concentration at its maximum. How I long for that intensity. Not even validation on the Internet can hold my attention these days.
There’s no malice in your eyes. Sometimes I see fear, when you weigh the consequences of a failed experiment with authority or gravity. I’m the problem. I’m not conditioned to be forgiving of mistakes because I’ve not been forgiven easily for mine. I’m also an impatient guy; so don’t be perturbed by the frequent scowls that punctuate my distracted gazes.
I see happiness in your eyes when you share my joy. When a song plays that both of us like, your eyes convey your delight at being a part of mine. There’s an unmistakable twinkle and you can’t stop smiling. It’s too goddamned adorable. The best part is that your eyes smile too. They crinkle up, making two little mini-smileys.
You’re quick to show anger in your eyes. That exasperated glare when we’re discussing a book you’ve read and I deliberately oversimplify its essence in my questions. Your eyes are accusing. As if I’ve violated a sacred tenet – dad is supposed to be smart. It’s probably one of those moments you’re allowing seeds of doubt to take hold. Is he really?
The hurt. When I reprimand you, (even when you really deserve it). That particular look in your eyes has always had a strong effect on me. It makes me feel like I’m perpetrating injustice. I wish you wouldn’t do that. I wish you’d just let me do my job as a parent with minimum guilt.
But the most redeeming feature of your eyes is their sincerity. Actually, their sincerity scares the heck out of me.
Let me explain. It’s not you, it’s me.
I spend the day surrounded by eyes that are prying, judgmental, appraising, and critical. Work is a battlefield of conflicting motives and politics. It takes a toll and sometimes you’re the unintended victim. It makes me irritable and moody. I hate to take it out on you but the need to separate work from home has been a lifelong struggle (don’t worry, I’m getting better).
Coming home to you is a relief. Sure, you’re noisy and boisterous and inquisitive and impatient but it’s all there in your eyes. They don’t judge me. Their adulation is unconditional, their admiration unmistakable. You want to do exactly what I’m doing, say exactly what I’m saying and be who I want to be. I wish you wouldn’t invest so much in me. I’m the guy who’s looking down at a phone when you’re looking at me. I’m the guy who’s gazing into middle-distance as I take one of the day’s thousand phone calls and absent-mindedly shoo you away at the same time. I’m the guy who justifies it as a necessity – that work must trump everything else. After all, the wheels must keep turning. But I’m aware you’re observing me the whole time. Your eyes are thirsty conduits to an insatiable sponge that is your imagination. You amplify every move and the meaning of every word as you appraise me with your eyes.
You probably don’t realize there is at least one moment in the day when I only have eyes for you. When I tuck you into bed. It’s when your eyes slowly and softly seek rest that I find myself giving you my full attention. Marveling at that complex world in your head – constantly learning and growing, fed by those eyes.
I thought I’d tell you before the embarrassed reticence of teenage swallows you up and you don’t think it’s cool to talk about these things anymore. The world will throw its fair share of people at you who will devalue your emotions. Stress will become a part of your life and start chipping away at your energy and enthusiasm. Joyful moments will need to be actively sought; they won’t come to you on a platter like they do today. The sheer wonder will go out of many things as your grow older.
Despite all those things I hope you keep seeing the world in unblemished sincerity, as you do today, with those wonderful eyes.