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Published March 05, 2012, 11:30 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Dad's proud of teenager

Dear Garrett, It seems unimaginable, but this past weekend when my back was turned, you turned 14 years old.

By: Devlyn Brooks, INFORUM

Dear Garrett,

It seems unimaginable, but this past weekend when my back was turned, you turned 14 years old.

Just yesterday, you were a half pint sitting in my lap, scribbling on your own paper, pretending to write a story just like your ol’ man, while I covered college sports games for a living.

And then, on Sunday, I turned around to see you standing nearly 6 feet tall, matching me nearly eyeball to eyeball and nose to nose.

Wow, what a big, little man you’ve become in such an incredibly short amount of time.

Son, it seems only yesterday that the doctor laid you in my hands and I felt what it was like to be a father for the first time, that mixture of awe, fear and pride, all swirling around in a sleep- and oxygen-deprived head. And I’ve been blessed every day since because the secret you learn as a parent is that it only gets better with age.

Oh sure, there are moments when you test my patience: I could live without the fights with your brother, the teenage tantrum here and there and the occasions you exhibit the ‘Tude. But, honestly, you have been mature for your age for as long as I remember and those trying moments have been few and far between.

I’ve told myself over and over that now that you were a teenager, I would no longer embarrass you via my newspaper columns, something you’ve been subjected to far longer than your brother. But, unfortunately, being written about is one of the few occupational hazards that come with your dad being a newspaperman.

It’s just inherent in my blood that with each passing milestone, I feel a need to sentimentalize the moment and write about it. But, please, know that it comes from good intention: I know not what I do for I am a writer and it’s in my bones.

Intimate, mushy, heartfelt one-on-one father-son talks aren’t our thing, I know. I blame our stoic, mostly Scandinavian heritage for that. But being I’ve gone this far to embarrass you, I might as well finish out the act.

You make me proud in so many ways that this could turn into a laundry list of qualities that I love about you. But suffice it to say, what I’m most proud of is your maturity.

For reasons beyond your control, more was expected of you than most kids your age ever had to put up with, but yet with each passing year you’ve accepted the responsibility and developed into more of a decent and responsible young man than I could’ve ever hoped for.

And so I thank you. … I thank you for all the times you had to step up and be my lieutenant just so that the house would run. And I thank you for the times you took care of your brother when you were young enough that should’ve only had to worry about you. … And I thank you for, well, just being you.

You will never have a bigger fan and you never have to worry whether I’m here for you. With each of your next steps toward adulthood, you may feel my hand pushing at your back less and less, but know that doesn’t mean I’m not back here waiting to catch you if you fall.

While words are incapable of describing how much I love you, know this: There has never been a father more proud of the man his son has become than me.

Happy birthday, my big, little man.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives in Moorhead with his two sons.