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Henry, My 3-Year-Old Sidekick

Under this late afternoon sun, I can sense him right there closing in on my heels.

I take the mower down another long stretch of grass and when I hit the end and start to spin her around, I catch Henry out of the corner of my eye doing his 180 a short second after I launch into mine. The brief delay between our moves is completely natural. We’re two stock cars tapping bumpers down in turn two. But I never give up the lead, you know?

At least not yet.

I’ve been thinking about my boy’s moves ever since we spun around the last time, at the other end of the yard. I want to tell you that it’s all magic or pure love or something like that, but I’d be straight up lying through my ass if I made it sound so greeting card-y or whatever.

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I mean, look, watching your own 3-year-old son mimic your every move does something mega for your ego. I’m not even sure why, it’s just this thing I’ve been noticing lately. The plain old fact that any human being alive, especially a little kid—my kid, wants to be like me and move like me, right when I move, it’s almost too much for me to take sometimes. It’s a boundless thrill, man. It’s almost as heavy and crazy as if the moon fell in love with you and Tom Cruise repelled down off the cliff of the sky just so it could start following you around Walmart like a celebrity bodyguard or something, shouldering Duck Dynasty T-shirt people out of your way just so you can get your thing of peanut butter/bag of frozen chicken fingers that have been frozen for six years/little metal can of Axe Peace Body Spray without having to even rub your nice shiny elbows on the mosquito paparazzi. I feel freaking bionic with Henry following me around the backyard.

I just know that what I am experiencing in this exact second is probably the most important thing that will ever happen to me.

I see that little dude back there a few steps behind me without even using my eyes, because when it comes to blood you don’t really need eyeballs to know what’s up. You just know stuff. And as I walk down across the yard—this big lawn we will soon be giving up to some other family, to some other renter with a mower who will look out over this giant goddamn lawn like his own private ocean, if he knows anything about living and what’s good in life—as I walk down that thing with Henry pushing his plastic mower hard in my wake, I just know that what I am experiencing in this exact second is probably the most important thing that will ever happen to me.

In and out of drama and love, in and out of paydays and funerals and supermarkets we stroll, our whole lives happening more or less down between the same four walls of the same arena that the next guy is living out his days in too. We sometimes think we’re so different, so original, but we’re not. Not by a country mile. We’re all just unintentional copycats. We mean well. Hell, we even try and put our own individual stamp on things, jumping out of airplanes or chasing strange addictions or sleeping around until the strong desire gradually melts from thick to thin, like butter in the pan. But no matter how hard we try and make ourselves believe it, our lives are all just a twitch in time.

And there’s like a 79 percent chance that you will probably miss the thing or two that goes down around you someday, the thing that was meant to be the epicenter of your existence. That may sound super heavy, but it’s true.

I know it is.

How do I know?

Because just now, as I was writing this basic little thing about Henry following me around the yard while I mowed the grass and he pretended to mow the grass, it occurred to me that I was writing down this, like, very pro football stadium watered-down $9.75 beer of a version of the single most magnificent moment in my life. And that I could have easily just let it slip by me in a haze of afternoon air and fresh-cut grass smell and gasoline fumes and all.

But I didn’t.

I’m blowing my own mind right now, but I’m just realizing that I didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss a thing. I caught it. I freaking caught it, man.

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I sensed something on my heels and I saw him out of the crook of my eye and I knew something big was happening and now this: this epiphany uncoiling itself as I sit here chugging down my second cup of coffee at 7 in the morning on a Tuesday, my three kids all asleep here around me in this bedroom. Henry, my wild child son laying there all peaceful, out like a light, probably dreaming of being just like me. No one ever dreamed of being like me before. Trust me, they didn’t. But those days are over.

Jesus, I am one lucky son of a bitch.

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