One Last Thing Before You Go

Of all the things we do as parents,  nothing is more primal, instinctive, and meaningful than holding our children.   There is much I no longer remember about those early years, but I can recount for you every heartbeat, every sound emitted from each of my children the first time I held them.   For them, it’s protective, soothing, comforting.  For us, it establishes the relationship.  It makes it real.  This tiny living thing belongs to me.  He needs me for everything.  A bad day at work was never a match for the gentle cuddle of my baby’s body.

You hold your children every day of their lives until you can’t anymore.   One day, you pick her up. You put her down.  She runs away.  And just like that, you will never pick her up again.  The last time you hold your child is monumental.  It’s both a happy graduation of sorts, and the end of the most critical stage of childhood.   Yet, we don’t mark the occasion.  We don’t cry. Or smile.  We don’t ask for one last time.  In fact, we don’t even realize it’s over.

Benny is 18 and off to college (via a year abroad).  He drives and votes.  He has a job and earns a salary.  He is a man.  An adult.   How the hell did that happen?

We did it!  We raised a child to adulthood.  This occasion, like the final time I held him in my arms so many years ago, will pass without fanfare.  As quickly as he came, he will be gone.  And, while he will surely spend time here again, he will no longer be a permanent resident of this house.    My little tax deduction is all growed up.

It was a trick of genetic engineering that enabled me to weed out my bad qualities and inculcate my son with the very best of me and my wife.  He has my smile and height, but he has Francine’s sensitivity, kindness, and maturity.   He managed to finish high school with a solid group of exceptional friends.   Unlike my childhood (and some adulthood) friends, they are friends in every sense of the word.  Selfless, sensitive, generous.   They look out for him and would never intentionally cause him pain.  It may seem trite but it’s a solid foundation for his next stage of growth.

I saw a video recently in which a man adopted a baby lion cub but, years later, released him into the wild when the lion grew too big to safely care for.   After about 10 years, the two were reunited in a scene that both warmed my heart and scared the crap out of me.    This manly-man, strong enough to raise a lion, cried like a baby when he released him, and then again at the reunion.   I stifled a giggle of superiority.   I understand the attachment, I argued, but I think the lion will survive just fine in his native habitat.

I am no longer sure.  Just as my legal obligations are terminating,  I am more worried than ever.  Is Benny ready for the wild?  How will he survive?  There is no way we taught him even the most basic survival skills.  The world is a huge, scary, terrible place.  Especially for the good guys.

So, here it is.   Don’t be influenced by money, love, success, or fame.  They are truly the path to the dark side.    Chase compassion relentlessly.    Never compromise your principles or the people who rely on them.   And, in a world where dishonesty is the standard, always speak the truth and always keep your word.

This advice is hardly novel.  Youtube any graduation speech and you will hear the same words in one form or another.   They are, after all, the easiest things to say to a child.   But, as common the advice, you must concede, the message is quickly disregarded on the way to College.

So maybe this is the better advice. Don’t change.  Grow.  Maintain the same innocent narrative, the same wide-eyed ideals and lofty goals that got you here but expand them to meet your growing universe and influence.

You made us proud.  Now go.  Before I change my mind.

Can I hold you one last time?


*** Apologies to my closest friend for the use of his title.

About aweisbrot

Ari is a prominent litigator in New York and New Jersey. He has been featured on CBS Radio’s Wall Street Journal Report, quoted in legal and non-legal periodicals, and has been recognized as a “SuperLawyer” in New Jersey and a "Top Ten Lawyer to Watch" in New York. Mr. Weisbrot is a true “client’s lawyer,” representing a diverse range of clients from among the largest retailers in the United States to smaller local businesses to religious and charitable organizations. Ari was appointed by Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey to a three-year term of service on the Committee on Character. The Committee determines the fitness to practice law of each candidate for admission to the Bar of the State. Mr. Weisbrot also continues to serve on the District Ethics Committee (IIB - Bergen County), which operates under the auspices of the New Jersey State Office of Attorney Ethics. Mr. Weisbrot has been awarded an 'AV' rating for his professionalism and the quality of his legal work from Martindale-Hubbell, the premier directory of legal professionals, and has been selected by his peers as a Super Lawyer. In addition, Mr. Weisbrot has written several articles on commercial litigation, which have been published in the New Jersey Law Journal and the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. A Former New York City prosecutor, Mr. Weisbrot is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Urban Law Journal and a featured columnist in the Law School newspaper
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6 Responses to One Last Thing Before You Go

  1. j b says:

    i am crying so!!!

  2. francesco says:

    I share the same feelings with my daughters Lisa and Angela.

  3. Kathryn Gorman says:

    This was beautiful Ari……as you know we have an only child who is now 16. We are neck deep into puberty and high school and it hasn’t been an easy road. The changes are so challenging especially when you think you know your child so well. I cried throughout reading this blog this morning, knowing that all of everything that you were writing about was true and those precious moments you mentioned in the beginning about how holding them was a symbol of security for both child and parent, it saddens me to realize, we can never get that back. Holding them so securely in our arms, their small, vulnerable bodies that relied on you 100% for everything they needed to survive. Their first sounds, the very first time they started to walk, the baby talk, their baby’s breath, the scent of their baby hair and skin, the smallness of their face, hands and feet. When they fell asleep on the couch at night, how we scooped them up and carried them off to bed. They will never be that small ever again and they are evolving into different people with so many changes from when they were first born until they leave us, then even more changes will come. We are struggling with the fact that she will be gone soon, and we do worry about her survival in this harsh world we live in today. But all we can do is stay positive, keeping moving forward and hoping for the best……

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