Today, our youngest son graduates from Great Bend High School. This really didn’t hit me until I walked into the laundry room and saw the black gown hanging there.
Wow, what a long, strange trip its been.
My wife and I thought about this the other day and realized we’ve had at least one kid in the house for the past 27 years. That’s 27 years of diaper bags, minivans, umbrella strollers, school programs, art projects (including uncooked pasta and handprints in plaster of Paris), kid-made Christmas tree ornaments, homework, concerts, curfews, scholarship applications, and caps and gowns.
Will I miss it? Let me think about it for a while.
No. Have you seen a diaper after strained carrots? And, no matter how you spin it, there is nothing manly about a minivan. Did I mention teenagers?
Don’t get me wrong, I do wax occasionally wax sentimental. I’ll miss having a child around – the smiles, the bustle of activity, and having someone to empty the dish washer and take out the trash.
Funny, with your first child, you single handedly keep Kodak in business buying film (for those younger folks who may be reading this, film is what we used to put in cameras before those little memory cards), carefully save each crayon drawing and concert program, and diligently track their growth through pencil marks on a door frame.
With child number two there are a few photos, like the ones showing them smearing spaghetti or birthday cake all over their face, a few old drawings that hung in student art shows and an occasional notation on height.
With child three, pictures? Try finding something to submit for the senior slide show. Papers? In the recycle bin. Growth? Well, he’s almost as tall as his dad.
Our youngest son is probably the most independent of our three children. He’s been a good student, but has pushed the limits of this independence. Like any teen boy, he tests limits and curfews.
It won’t be easy to see him go, until he’s gone. He’s ready. It’s time.
Empty nest syndrome? I don’t think so. Call me a bad parent, but after nearly three decades of the pitter patter of little feet, I am ready to repaint his bedroom.
As for the dirty dishes and trash, well, he’ll come home at Christmas.
None the less, watching him walk across that stage at Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium this evening may bring a tear to my eye.
It is time for him to embark on his own long, strange trip. He must find his path and follow it.
With lots of love, I wish, and pray, for him to seek and find joy and success, wherever that may be.
For every season, turn, turn, turn.
Speaking of graduation, since we moved, we have loved our backyard. Our deck juts out into a shaded refuge. So, we decided, let’s hold our son’s graduation reception in this urban paradise.
We couldn’t host such a gathering in just that plain, old yard. We needed something. How about a pergola?
I am like many of you I’m sure. Prior to last summer, I had no idea what in the heck a pergola was. Let me explain. It’s like a gazebo, except not roundish. No walls and no ceiling. Just posts supporting a slatted top to allow filtered light to pass. This, by no means, means this a simple structure.
We had to dig holes, pour concrete footings and erect what amounts to a building bigger than our garage behind our garage.
Several hundred dollars, months of procrastination, days of labor and our sanity later, the wooden structure arose. That was last fall.
Now, we have a lovely oak tree and a lovely elm tree providing shade and an incredibly cool pergola. What else is missing?
We had some back there, but not much. Sort of like hair on my head. Mowing some swatches of that yard kicked up enough dust to bury Pompeii.
We can’t have this nice pergola without a nice lawn, right?
So, we decided to have it re-sodded. And, since this isn’t like an air fern or Chia pet, and we’d actually have to water it, why not go ahead and install a sprinkler system while we’re at it? Well, why not, it’s only money.
The guy came and dug out the existing stand of grass a couple weeks back. When the wind blew, it looked like we were doing a re-enactment of the Dirty 30s. I drank coffee one the deck in the Dust Bowl.
Then, the other guys, including a plumber, came and put in the pipes and grass.
Well, thousands of dollars later, we have a yard to be proud of and a great location for our get-together. But, be advise, if you attend, sorry, you can’t walk on the grass yet. For now, it’s for decoration only, and for the dogs to, well, do what dogs do outdoors.
(Dale Hogg is the managing editor of the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)