This is actually Matthew in one of the old trucks Spencer bought purely for parts. The only pictures I have of the El Camino are Spencer and I kissing in it and that somehow didn't seem appropriate for this post.
I think Spencer made the decision like, the day that we found out we were having a boy. It’s no secret that (already having a daughter and having previously thought that no way, under any circumstances would he EVER be having more kids) he hoped for a boy out of our first pregnancy. He didn’t have baby fever, he had SON fever. So the day that we left the ultrasound back in 2007, Spencer got busy making all kinds of plans and one of them was to have Matthew help him fix up the El Camino, because someday it would be his.
Spencer is exactly the kind of father I always pictured him to be. I’m hard pressed to think of a thing in this world he doesn’t know how to do with his own two hands, which is something I’ve always been psyched for him to pass onto our son. He takes immense pride in being self-sufficient, so he hunts and fishes and gardens and knows how to grill anything he catches or grows so that it tastes delicious. He even taught me how to fry up dandelions and make ice cream out of snow. He buys cars just for the hobby of taking them apart and rebuilding them and he can put together a computer from the ground up. When I married him, he knew nothing about electrical work or plumbing and he’s since done all of both we’ve ever put into this house - which is a lot. We had carpet install once, and he watched every move that the people we hired made so that he’d never have to pay someone to do it again. Everything else we’ve ever done to the house, has been done by him (and not just because he’s cheap). He’s the guy at work that always gets the biggest raise in the shortest time because he can’t bring himself to show up less than fifteen minutes early everyday or to not work twice as hard as the best man he works with, or to tell who he works for that he deserves to be the highest paid man on the job.
There is a long list of things my husband does that do not impress me, a LONG list, but I have always known that he’d be an incredible father to our son, and he’s delivered.
Oddly enough though, Matthew kind of unexpectedly started taking more to me since I’ve been home, (while Scarlett takes to her dad) despite the ton of stuff they do together. Just last week they came back from an outing together, telling me he got to operate a fork lift, helping to put a new cab on an old pick-up. Matthew DEVOURS anything his father teaches him about trucks and fixing appliances and how to grill steak like a man, but he likes just as much to catch butterflies with me and wash dishes and paint with acrylics and learn math. He takes from us equally, right down the middle, but he is more affectionate, more open, and more tender with me. If we’re all spending time together, he’s wrapped in my arms or holding my hand. Anytime he spends with his dad is interrupted at least a dozen times for him to come pay me a hug and kiss and a very quick, syrupy sweet, “I love you, momma!” as if he’s afraid I’ll forget it while he’s by his father’s side.
(Scarlett doesn’t know how to be delicate about her favoritism like Matthew does, so she just throws all of her weight from my arms, screaming DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! like a crazed lunatic the minute her father steps within earshot of anywhere we are.)
A few weeks ago over breakfast, we decided that Matthew’s old enough now to start really helping Spencer out around the garage. It’ll be good for both of them, we agreed. Right now Matthew vacuums his bedroom, he puts his own clothes on their hangers after they come out of the dryer, he feeds the cat daily without ever having to be told, and he wheels up all four garbage bins every Wednesday afternoon. Some of the best bonding that we do is over little necessities around the house. It’s time he start learning how to do things I don’t know enough about to accurately describe on here by name.
After we watched John Carpenter’s Christine together, (an 80s horror flick about a supernatural muscle car that possesses it’s owner and kills people, even without a driver) Matthew has been ALL the hell about it. There is nothing more badass to that boy than an old, red muscle car.
So yesterday, Matthew had the option of either going with me to the grocery store or staying behind and helping Spencer organize the garage. (My husband, by the way, is neurotic about his garage being clean. After his near-death crisis in September, he decided that life was too short to keep putting off all of the things that he loves most, so everyday after work I give him time to be in his garage for a while before he has to come in and “be dad” for the night. (We call it that jokingly; Matthew is usually in there with him.) 90% of what he does is obsessively organize his tools.) I kind of expected this to sound like no fun at all to Matthew, but he decided to stay.
When I got back, Matthew was wiping down the El Camino with a car duster inside the garage, AC/DC wailing over the surround sound and booming through the rafters. “MOMMY! Daddy said that I get to HAVE this car when I get bigger!!” he beamed. “He actually said,” he started, taking a more serious tone, “that I could choose: this or the truck. But I want the cool, red car!”
For a minute, I was love-struck. My little boy, taking after his dad, learning how to be a man, covered in filth and smelling like gasoline with a big ol’ shit-eating grin on his face. The palpable masculinity of it all was just too darling for my little Mommy heart to take. I scooped him up and squeezed him over the long, broad striped hood of the car, but he broke free.
“YEAH. I’m ‘onna be all like EEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR! EEEERRRRRRR-UGGHHHMMMMM… SCREEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAACHHHH!!” he screamed, ridged arms jerking wildly back and forth as if steering a pretend car on a murderous rampage. “It’s gonna be AWESOME! I’m gonna name her CHIRSTINE! ”
I’ve never coddled Matthew, especially when it comes to letting the innate boyishness in him go wild on adrenalin-filled dreams. But I’ve got 14 years until that car becomes his and I am already terrified.
At least it’s not a motorcycle… At least it’s not a motorcycle…