Monday, May 28, 2007

My Kid Marco is Graduating

Alright. My kid Marco is graduating from High School today. Good for him. I've known him a long time. I met him when he'd just turned 4. He was Chepa's second. His brother, Italo, had just turned 7. I fell in love with her during a 30-day trip on a boat I had that we went plant collecting on for Shaman Pharmaceuticals. Just a 39-foot old fishing boat but we took it from Iquitos down to Leticia and then up the Yivari, the border between Peru and Brazil, to my friends, the Matses. We did about 3,000 or so kilometers on that thing and I fell in love and she fell in love and I asked her to marry me shortly after that. She didn't believe me, of course, because she had two children, and gringos tend to fall in love and ask about marriage a lot in Iquitos, but most of them go home full of promises and never return.
I did return. And though I'd never been a father it seemed like with her aboard it wouldn't be a hard thing. And it wasn't.
Not that it was easy: The boys had seen other boyfriends come and go. I told them it was going to be different with me, that I was going to stay and they'd better get used to it. And they did. And we moved Chepa and the boys to New York and they learned how to play basketball on the lower end of Harlem on the east side, and they learned how to play baseball and learned how cool Central Park was. And me and Marco were at it almost from the beginning. We fought a lot. That beautiful boy loved to push buttons.
And then on a trip to Lima his kidney's failed and he spent 17 days in intensive care and all that time I prayed like a true believer. And he came through and we came home to New York and I was so proud of him for fighting off death like that.
We moved back to Peru and opened our little bar, The Cold Beer Blues Bar/Cebicheria Madeleina (after our new daughter) and Marco and I continued to go at it. He'd paint my camera lenses, took apart every electronic thing he could find, wouldn't pick up after himself, wouldn't help out. And every once in a while he'd come out with "You're not my real father!" and I'd nearly explode. Because I was and am. If you cut us open the three of us, Italo, Marco and I, would have the same DNA. Don't tell me that's not possible. I've been with them too long not to know what's what.
He was always smart. Very smart. The kind of smart that Italo has in athletic ability. Just something extraordinary. If you're not quick with Italo, he'll embarrass you on the soccer field. You're not quick with Marco, you're gonna lose every argument you're in with him.
Of course, he never liked to study. And there was a point where he moved to Texas just before Italo and I did, and when I got there his teachers told me they were considering putting him in the 'slow' classes. I couldn't believe it. I suggested they test him. There were two tests: One was a statewide math test, the other an IQ.
He scored 800 on 800 on the math test--the only kid to do it in Texas that year. He scored 150-something on the IQ. The teachers were flabbergasted. I wasn't. He didn't do his work because he was bored, that's all. I asked them to challenge him, to give him problems he couldn't do, like he couldn't put watches back together once he got them apart. But just like the watches, which he eventually learned how to fix, those teachers who challenged him discovered that he would usually rise to it.
And now he's 18 and graduating today. With a decent average in some courses, and honors in others. He's still lazy and won't work if not challenged, but he's learned to play the game even when he's bored.
What will he do after this? I don't know. Whatever it is he's going to be okay. Or better than that. He's grown into a good young man. I love him enormously. He's still a pain in the neck, still challenges me every two seconds, but he's my kid and that's okay.
Congratulations, Marco. Way to go.


squidranch said...

That's wonderful to hear. Congratulations to Marco as well as you as a great dad!

Jin said...

Hope you are feeling better.