In the epic adventure, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and his best friend Sallah are parting ways in search of the Ark of the Covenant. As they embrace, Sallah states, with sadness in his eyes, “Indy, I am missing you already.”
Typical of many young boys, my son has been a long-time fan of the world-traveling, adventure-seeking archaeologist Indiana Jones. Not typical of many boys his age is the extraordinary bond of our parent-child relationship. Â Maybe it’s the joint custody between his father and me, or perhaps it’s the personalities at play, but I describe myself as fortunate to be raising such a kind-hearted kid.
When he was five, he was obsessed with plants, trees, soils and seeds. Instead of bedtime stories about Curious George, we read books about trees and landscape plants. Â For his birthday that year, he asked for a fan palm and packets filled with seeds.
He hounded meÂ with questions on this subject and we quickly became big fans of wikipedia and other Internet resources on this topic. Â When I reached the edge of what I knew or could find, I took my son to the Como Conservatory and pawned him off on the master gardener who thought it “adorable” that he was fascinated by the succulents and the sundew family of plants (i.e., cactus and Venus fly traps). Â While he learned from the master, I took a much-needed nap on one of the benches nearby.
In first grade, his teacher, Mrs. LaPoint, called him Johnny Appleseed and gave him the distinct honor of planting the holiday amaryllis for their classroom. In second grade, my son went as a saguaro cactus for Halloween and questioned when he turned three thousand days old. Â According to our calculations, his 3000th day was April 22, Earth Day, appropriately so. Â We planted 100 tiny trees and volunteered to help clean up the Kinni. We made flower-shaped cookies and took them to school to celebrate. Â His teacher thought it a bit strange, but the gesture was important to Cameron and therefore important to me.
In the third grade, Cameron’s interests turned toward boats and ships of extraordinary size. Â He was fascinated with the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Titanic and her sister ships The Britannic and Olympic. To inspire his curiosity and fuel his creativity, I took him hiking on the north shore trails and explored ships in the Duluth Harbor.
The fourth and fifth grade years brought fascinations of their own, and with them, learning, life lessons and opportunities for growth. I am the parent, this much is true, but he has brought as much to my life as I have to his. Our adventures haven’t netted us museum relics or priceless artifacts like those of Indiana Jones, but his love for nature has taken me out of the gym and onto the trails. His passion for ships encouraged me to seek water and the serenity it brings; and his compassion for plants caused me to stop and smell the roses.
As my son quickly approaches his twelfth year, I reminisce about our past and anticipate the transitions ahead. There are bigger adventures on the horizon for both my son and me. As we plan and prepare, I say to this boy who is not yet a man, I am missing you already.