What better opportunity to share thoughts I've had recently concerning a child, 25-year-old Etienne?
Comments about how handsome he is will be graciously deferred to his father's gene pool; Etienne has, through and through, that side's features.
He's known to friends and colleagues as "ET", to his father by his full name, (never the English equivalent, Stephen) and to me as his baby nickname, Ed, provided for my American parents, for whom the pronunciation was daunting. (They tried, rhyming it with "Haitian". It is closer to Aye-TYENN.)
Etienne lives in Montréal with his sweetheart, Tash. We didn't move to be in the same city–young people are mobile–but it's the cherry on the sundae.
Besides those big blue eyes, he has a lively intelligence, presently aimed toward becoming an urban planner, and quirky, ready sense of humour. When I spend time with him, I often think of a colleague of decades ago, Halina who spoke to me of her thirty-something son. "He still surprises me", she told me, "and I enjoy him as much now as when he was a baby."
Everyone tells you about parenthood's first and second chapters: childhood and adolescence, those full, fraught volumes. They speak less of the delights of adult children, which Etienne contributes at every meeting.
Some of you have grown children, some are involved aunts or mentors. Even if this child can now drive you somewhere, you are still the generation ahead. You no longer have the pleasure of wrapping him, pink and wriggly, in a towel after lifting him from the bath, but you have the joy of hearing him discuss an article's logic or cook you a meal that contains echoes of what you gave him at your table.
This is a sweet and unanticipated joy.