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A Letter To My Son: The Sequel
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Has it really been 10 years since I wrote a heartfelt letter to my newborn son, Gideon Lewis Tyree? (See my blog at for a collection of Gideon columns.)
As Gideon reaches the decade milestone, I feel compelled to unload on him again.
Son, your “absent-minded professor mode” has made “Watch your step!” a three-word phrase rivaling “I love you” for frequency. Given our experience with important school documents, I can just imagine Moses on his deathbed, displaying Gideon-like selective memory. (“Oy! I just remembered these two tablets I was supposed to show you 40 years ago!”)
I’m tickled by the way you become enthralled in conversations on talk radio in Daddy’s truck. I just worry that your math teacher will call to say that you think the solution to every problem is either “buy gold bullion” or “unearth a Kenyan birth certificate.”
Sometimes your perfectionism causes aggravation for the whole family, but I hope you’ll continue to maintain accuracy in media, as you do with your sporadically updated journal. (Last March you wrote about visiting me at the farmers cooperative and recorded, “Now I am looking at the chicks. They’re having a dance party in there.” Nine months later, you felt obligated to refer back to that entry and clarify, “And when I was watching chicks, I meant baby chickens, not girls.”)
I hope you’ve appreciated our teachable moments, even the ones that seem like teachable eternities. I’ve tried not talking down to you, because you need concepts such as “This, too, shall pass” and “Always leave ‘em wanting more.” It’s important that you know the virtues of time management and the value of a dollar (and, consequently, the value of keeping the government away from the printing press!!!)
My tall, slender strawberry-blonde boy, even at your most exasperating, I am in awe of your innate sweetness, sentimentality, unselfishness and optimism. I pray that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune don’t make you cynical. (What’s that, Gideon? Yes, outrageous fortune probably uses Stinger missiles instead of slings and arrows now. *Sigh*)
I’m proud of your (mostly) straight-A report cards, your achievements in the 4-H public speaking contest, your underdog performance in the spelling bee and your charismatic magic act for the talent show. (I try to ignore the scurrilous rumors that you personally caused the polar ice caps to melt so there would be enough water for your long, long showers.)
I’m sorry I don’t have the time, energy or talent to share all your video games and other hobbies with you. Pappy didn’t have time to do everything he wanted with me and Uncle Dwight. You won’t have time to do everything with YOUR children. It’s what Disney’s “The Lion King” capsulized as The Circle of Life Without Parole if You Don’t Go to Your Room and Play Quietly!
It’s bittersweet to watch you outgrow your childhood habits and preoccupations one by one. But I trust that when I write again in 10 years, you’ll still have your voracious love of reading, still cuddle cats, still grab the Sunday comics with glee, still crave to revisit the Smithsonian, still laugh at TV’s “Green Acres” and “I Love Lucy,” still dread running laps and still display a flair for puns and snarky comments.
As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Tyree.
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.