We saw Hamilton at Playhouse Square over the weekend. The tickets were our big “family” Christmas present, and we all had a blast. I was reminded of something that happened a few years ago.

March 6, 2019

We’re on the way home one evening last week. He’s singing “My Shot” from Hamilton in the back seat.

“Only nineteen but my mind is older
These New York City streets get colder, I shoulder
Ev’ry burden, ev’ry disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don’t have a gun to brandish
I walk these streets famished
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame…”

He pauses.

“Can I have a Tier 1 swear?” he asks. “It’s part of the song.”

I laugh. How can you not laugh? “Go ahead.”

“But damn,” he continues, “it’s getting dark, so let me spell out the name,
I am the
We are meant to be
A colony that runs independently.”

Another pause. “Can I have one more?”

“Yeah,” I say, chuckling. “Keep going.”

“Meanwhile, Britain keeps shittin’ on us endlessly.”

He continues, and I randomly belt out “Her-cu-les Mulligan!”

He stops. “That part has an f-bomb in it. I’m not comfortable with that.”

I laugh again, but only on the outside. Inside, I’m crying. For the innocence that remains in him, but is rapidly being eaten up by the world. I want to stop the car. Stop the world. Stop everything and let him be innocent for awhile longer. The highway is flying by at sixty-five miles per hour, but his life is going so, so much faster. So much childhood already behind him; thirteen years and only yesterday he first filled his lungs with air and announced his arrival to the world; only an hour ago he took his first steps; just five minutes ago he climbed on the bus to go to kindergarten.

Tomorrow: a cell phone, a car, a job, a place of his own, a soulmate. Give me a minute to catch my breath, kid. Slow down. Let today last another few hours.

Time has stubbornly marched on, as we all knew it would. He’s a junior in high school today. He’s been playing the alto saxophone in the marching band since the summer of 2020 (just a few short months after having surgery on both his Achilles tendons that required he be in casts for six-plus weeks); he had his first job in the summer of 2021; he plays the baritone saxophone in the jazz ensemble; this past fall he was the lead in a play; next month, he’s playing the tenor saxophone in the orchestra pit for a musical; he’s passed the written exam and gotten his temporary driver’s license (we’ve only practiced driving twice, mostly due to his hectic schedule).

Next week he’ll be seventeen. In a few short months: a high school senior. But he’ll always be two, jamming a cotton swap up my nose to be helpful; he’ll always be five, frowning at me because the line to get into Hogwarts is too long; he’ll always be eight, creating waffle-based superheroes; he’ll always be nine, going to his first concert with me (“Weird Al” Yankovic at Nautica); he’ll always be thirteen, in the backseat of the car, asking if it’s okay to sing “damn,” because it’s part of the song.

January 13, 2011. Waiting in line at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
December 31, 2022. Waiting for Hamilton to start at the State Theater in Playhouse Square.

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