So, today marked the last morning we had to wake him up for school. And I say we, because it is a corporate affair. Donna starts the process about 7:10, and hammers him every five minutes or so. I interject and shake the bed when I pass his room during my morning routine. For all the sadness that goes with having your kids grow up and eventually move away, this wake-up routine is not part of the experience I'll miss, nor will my wife.
Not that he won't be around, but there are some moments from his school years that I will always treasure - moments between father and son, as well as family moments. Here's a few:
- During our years in Elmbrook's Boy's Club, we took a trip up to Waupaca every summer for a trip down the Mighty Crystal River. (Not mighty). They equipped father and son with ridiculously small canoes and we spent a couple hours floating down the river. One time we flipped in the rapids and both of us came up laughing. It was a great adventure in 3 feet of water.
- I took Ben to a few Brewers baseball games over the years. On one memorable night we had really great seats down low. Ben was too cute as a four year old, so I told him to go and see if the ball girl would give him a ball. She couldn't resist his dimples and gave him one. We also managed to get a couple player signatures on his glove too. A cool night!
- There were countless soccer, T-Ball, football and swim meets we sat through as Ben learned the importance of teamwork and physical activity. He's now enrolled at a gym and I think the physical work ethic is solidly ingrained in his psyche.
- Two summers ago we were in the BWCA on a long, bug filled portage. I was laden with a pack and the canoe. Ben got to the end of the portage then came back and asked me if I needed any help. He took my pack and finished the portage out for me, while I wrestled the canoe. It was one of those moments where you go "Hey, he's growing up!"
- Last summer I gave him a sledge hammer and told him to break up the sidewalk we were slated to replace. He threw his whole body into the project. After that he helped with pouring concrete, digging post holes and drilling deck boards. Helping out his old man - something I never got to do.
I guess everyone's kids grow up. It's what we do as parents. And for those who can't or choose not to parent, there's nieces and nephews to call their own too. As they grow we cheer them on, correct their course, hover - then back off - and finally push them out of the nest. We've rented them from God for 18 years is more like it.
As Khalil Gibran said so eloquently:
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and he bends with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.