A cartoon dog made me cry the other day. A white, bespectacled, red bowtie-wearing beagle. Yes, Mr. Peabody and Sherman brought me to tears. On more than one occasion over the course of 90 minutes, no less. You got me again, Dreamworks, curse you!
Or rather, thank you.
During one particularly moving scene, the filmmakers did a masterful job of reminding dads how amazing it is to be a dad, and how quickly these early years will be gone. A montage of moments between father and young son, combined with John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).” I hung on every lyric, some of which I’ve pasted below —
Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster’s gone
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here
Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
‘Cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it’s a long way to go
But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
It’s the coming of age part that gives me pause. Things are moving too quickly. My chest hurts a little when I realize that Max and Ev will share just one more school year together, then never in the same school again. My breathing catches when I count the number of years before Max leaves for college. On the fingers of one hand now. And I know that I should expect the next few years to be challenging, perhaps very difficult at times.
I know, too, that things could even go completely off the rails.
My friend David Sheff wrote an outstanding book a few years back in which he chronicled the life of his son’s life-and-death struggles with addiction. A bright, engaging, talented son David loves as deeply as I am in love with my own sons. And David’s desk is no doubt littered with photos of his son Nic, that look just like the photo of my son Max at the top of this blog post. Interestingly enough, if I remember correctly, David may have been the first to suggest that I bring Max to Bolinas. David’s book fondly recalls his bliss watching his own son among the waves there. I’ve experienced the same with my son. Even more interesting is the fact that David’s book is entitled Beautiful Boy. And it is linked forever to Jon Lennon, since David was the last journalist to conduct a major interview with Lennon before the latter’s death.
I don’t know what the future holds for my sons. But strangely I now feel ready, or at least more ready after seeing the movie.
I’ve read David’s book. I’ve probably heard the song before. And I’ve chatted and emailed with David plenty. But it took a talking beagle to re-introduce “Beautiful Boy” to me at exactly the right moment in my life and in the lives of my boys. My own beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boys.
Thanks for reading.