One day, some girl is gonna like you.
She’ll think you’re cute and she’ll giggle when you walk past with your friends. She’ll sit in the stands at your baseball game. You’ll act tough and swing your bat back and forth while strutting out to home plate. She’ll yell for you. Your cheeks will turn bright red and you’ll work really hard not to bust out in a gigantic grin. You don’t mind the attention, but you’re not one to just give away you’re feelings that easily.
You’ll ask her friends for her phone number. You’ll call her up, or text her when you finally work up the courage. I don’t really know what kids do these days. Maybe you’ll send her a tweet or an emoji or a little heart on Instagram. I hope you’ll call though. I hope you’ll have conversations with her and get to know her heart. Maybe you’ll tease her. Maybe you’ll make her laugh. Maybe you’ll tell her you thought it was really cool she came to your game.
You’ll hold hands.
You’ll ask her to be your girlfriend.
You’ll go on dates. You’ll forget the rest of the world exists. Your friends will punch you in the arm and say “dude, where have you been?” You’ll ask for money to take her to play Top Golf or bowling or out to eat. I’ll say no, and give you jobs as a way to earn some extra cash instead. (Gahhh . . . you have the meanest mom in the world.)
You’ll roll your eyes, but you’ll do it anyways. You’ll mow the grass. You’ll wash my car. You’ll haul all the cardboard to get recycled. You’ll do it because she’ll be worth it.
Just remember, I called you baby first.
One day, some girl is gonna love you.
She’ll love who you are. She’ll get how funny you are and your quirky little jokes, and appreciate how sensitive you can be. She’ll admire the way you work hard. And she’ll just nod and shake her head at the way you try to sneakily win arguments just like your father does.
She’ll love that you always have a plan. She won’t mind the way you get reserved around new people, and she’ll adore the way you stay loyal to the few people you open up to.
She’ll be proud of you. She won’t let you get away with always thinking you are right. She’ll call you out when you deserve it.
She’ll get you.
She’ll understand you.
She’ll make you want to be the absolute best version of yourself.
You’ll get down on one knee. And I know you, you’ll plan something elaborate and beautiful and well thought-out, but you’ll keep the whole thing a secret. You’ll buy her the ring she cut out of a magazine when she was a little girl. You’ll look her father in the eyes and ask for his permission. You’ll ask her to be your wife. You’ll ask her to promise to give you the rest of her life, and you’ll promise to give her the very best of you.
She’ll say yes, of course. How could she not?
Just remember, I called you baby first.
You’ll walk me down the aisle to my seat on the first row. I’ll hold tight to your arm, but I’ll let you go. Love does that sometimes—it forces you to remove your grip on someone who no longer belongs to you, and cheers for them in the form of soft smiles and huge tears that flow freely as they take steps toward their exciting new life.
The big moment will come. Everyone will be looking at her, but I’ll be looking at you.
How your face lights up. How you still do that same thing you’ve always done where you work really hard not to bust out in a huge grin. How you fidget because being in front of all of those people makes you a little nervous. How you shine. How you treasure her.
Maybe you’ll live nearby.
Maybe you’ll live far away.
But the time will come for you and your wife to grow your family. You’ll call me up and say it’s happening. You’ll be panicked, but you won’t show it. You’re so good under pressure. I’ll tell you how proud I am, and what a wonderful father you’re going to be. I’ll tell you to hold her hand the whole time, and to reassure her, and to tell her she looks beautiful no matter what.
We’ll hop in the car, your dad and I, and we’ll rush to the hospital.
We’ll wait anxiously in the lobby until you grab us and tell us it’s OK for us to come in the room and there you’ll be—holding your tiny daughter or son, just bundled up in a white swaddle, screaming because coming into a brand new world is scary, and that’s just what newborns do. You’ll bounce him and you’ll shush him and you’ll calm him.
And the only thing I’ll be able to think is:
I am so, so unbelievably proud I got to call you baby first.