Not Going To Be Like Me

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

Do you remember the scene in Forrest Gump where he finds out he has a son? Jenny tells him that is his son looking at the TV in the other room and his first thought is

“Is…Is he like me?”

“No, he’s just fine,” she tells him. And he starts to cry.

That part KILLS me every time I watch that movie, which I try not to do because…that part KILLS me. The awareness that something is not right about him and he doesn’t want his own son to have to deal with all he has dealt with…well, I know that feeling.

I write about my son much more than I write about my daughter. It is not because I love him more than I love her or even vice versa. I write about him more because I worry about my connection to him, my role with, my ability to be his dad much more than I do with Dorit. The issues with him challenge me more deeply than the issues with her and I tend to write about the things that most affect me.

Ever since my Okapis were born, it has been clear that he is SO much like me, while Dorit is much more like her mother. Both Gem and I could easily see me as a child when we looked at him, wondering if that was what I was like at his age, wondering how hard it must have been for me to be like that, to be so anxious, lacking in confidence, so easily upset and scared AND to go through all I did. With Lucas, we hoped to lead or gently nudge him down a different path, but worried about how there was much of me (in fairness to myself, I mean the negative aspects of myself I struggle with) that was already hard-wired in him.

Today Gem had a meeting with the Okapis’ teachers and it went very well. Our Okapis are doing extraordinarily well, are meeting all of their development expectations and are excelling in many ways. Plus, the teachers love them and are very happy to have them in their class. They went on to add that while both of them are pretty smart, Lucas is actually very intelligent and we were both pleasantly surprised at that.

Dorit has always demonstrated her intelligence more than Lucas has and so it has been easier to see with her. I wrote last week that Lucas has been talking a lot more lately and while Gem and I were discussing it on the phone today, I said to her he hasn’t been talking more because of some newfound verbal skills.

“He’s talking more because he’s more confident.”

And I started to cry, right in the middle of my cube, for the same exact reason Forrest cried when Jenny tells him his son is just fine.

He’s not going to be like me.

My little boy is gaining more and more confidence in himself and what he can do. We really are making a difference, helping him to break through his genetic restraints and he is blossoming.

I’m probably too neurotic to stop worrying about this forever, but for the first time, I believe, I can see, with my own eyes, by sharing my genes with my son, I have not doomed him to a life of struggle like mine has been.

The relief I feel is immense. My boy will be different, will have the chances he deserves, is entitled to. Even better what we’re doing, what I’m doing, is helping to make that difference.

Thank God.