Parenting Blog

A Promise Made in 1982

When I was a pup of 6 years experience in this world, I made a promise I honestly believed I had the ability to keep.  I promised my father that I’d stay 6 forever.

Until the end of days, a 6-year-old boy; wide-eyed and pudgy-faced.

Now a father myself, I have the knowledge of what it means to believe in the way that my dad believed me then. He never once told me I couldn’t keep that promise, that it’s an impossibility. He never once laughed and said, “sure, son, sure you will.” There wasn’t an ounce of condescension in him when I would repeat again and again that “I am going to be your 6-year-old son forever.”

This is just one of the reasons he was, and remains, a brilliant father. Because often, the best qualities of a person exist in the moments when nothing is said, when a smile and a hug, and maybe a tear are all one releases into the world.

I have done my damnedest to keep my promise to stay 6 forever as best I can as a 14, 25, and now 37 year old. I believe that a part of me remains frozen in time, in 1982; a wide-eyed, pudgy-faced boy with tiny arms still wrapped tightly around my daddy’s neck, cheek pressed tightly against cheek. Yes, in fact, I am certain of it, a vital part of me is very much still in that moment. And will always be. Because I’m not one to break promises.

When my girls make similar promises now; to always be my babies, to always want a cuddle from daddy, to go far but never stray, I smile and I hug them, and maybe a tear will fall, because a part of me is freezing them right there, locking those words and looks and love away forever so that they will always be able to keep their promises too.

*This post was also published on The Huffington Post.

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  1. Just lovely, Jeff. Well done.

  2. “Lovely” can’t even describe this post.
    Well done indeed.

  3. Jeff! I can totally relate to this. I’ve been thinking so much about time lately. As a parent time is thought of in so many different ways. In some ways it’s compartmentalized into slots in which we can get things done. In other ways it’s a reminder that things are ever changing and evolving, including our little ones. I’m going to get choked up here. But, I’ve been asking Emily if she can just stay 4 forever and that she has to promise. Sometimes I wonder if that’s too much to ask of her but for me it’s a way to try and capture the smile, the chubby cheeks, the quick wit. She just smiles and says “even though I’m growing up, I promise to still talk like I do and to snuggle with you.” Seriously, Jeff, now I’m crying. Well done. Ugh…..who’s got a tissue?!

  4. Yes to all of this. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s adorable promises. When Mouse was little, the Bear, Mrs. and I would all fawn over the funny way she’d pronounce certain words and none of us would correct her because we know someday soon those misspoken word would be gone forever.

  5. Thank you, Jill.

  6. Thanks, Mom.