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August 15, 2018

The Shortest Summer of my Life

Jennifer went to summer school this summer, so that means that she had about 2 weeks off before summer school started. And maybe 2 weeks off before the fall semester started back up. So, all summer, I thought about things we could do that would be fun, so we wouldn't waste our time together. I thought we'd go white-water rafting and things like that.

On Saturday 8/11, Jen called me in a panic. Somehow, she was supposed to be check out of her place in Boulder by 12:00 noon, and was somehow unaware of this. So, I hopped in the Tahoe and pulled the army trailer up to Boulder. We loaded everything into her VW Tiguan, my Tahoe, and the army trailer. Then, rode to her mom's place. Jen spent the night there, and I drove home alone with the Tahoe and the army trailer, with expired plates on the truck and trailer. Somehow, I made it through the canyon to my house. Put the army trailer in the barn. So, we'll store her stuff there until she moves into her new place in Boulder in a couple of weeks.

Then, I'm not sure when she came back up...maybe on Sunday night?

This is what we did:
We couldn't go white-water rafting because all of the water was gone from the melted snow and Clear Creek was just a trickel.

Mon 8/13 -
Every time we leave the house, we have a little ritual where she puts out a bowl of dog food for Clifford and he used to eat the food, instead of chasing us as we left the house in the car. But now, he's older and smarter, and he watches us as we leave, instead of eating the dogfood. Like...we're not fooling him at this point. He's well aware we're leaving.

On Monday, we did BEAU JOS and Baskin Robbins.
We went down to Lakewood and got mani-pedi's at INail & Spa. Then we hit the Pacific Ocean Int'l Marketplace. On the way home, the Tiguan failed to proceed and, with a carload of melting groceries imported from Asia, we used Uber or Lyft to get home, and had the Tiguan towed to Grant's Automotive Monday night.

Tue 8/14 -
In the morning, we learned that Grant's Automotive doesn't work on VW's, apparently. So we had the Tiguan towed to My Auto Service Center down the hill.
We ate at Yianni's Gyro Place in Lakewood.
Then, we rode horses down at Bear Creek Lake Park.

I was able to get some of the lights to go off on the X3 as follows:
1) Added a quart of oil to make the oil light go off.
2) Added water to the radiator to make the radiator light go off.
3) Added water to the windshield wiper reservoir to make that light go off.

Wed 8/15 -
We went to the Colorado Adventure Center in Idaho Springs, and did the SKY TREK.

Then, we dropped off my AT to put the 4th set of tires on it. (Came w/ new tires in July of 2017, then new tires before I left on my trip in Nov. Then, new tires again earlier this year. Now, smooth as a baby's ass again.)

Then, we left the AT at the shop in Evergreen and rode down the hill in the BMW X3 and picked up her VW Tiguan at My Auto Service Center. It had thrown the alternator belt, apparently. She rode to her mom's place in her VW Tiguan, and I rode home in the X3.

And when I got home, I couldn't help but see how Cliffie felt. Finally, I grasped things from his perspective. He knew we were leaving him whenever we put food out on the patio. But he didn't chase us when we left. And he knew we were leaving.

Now that I'm looking at his bowl, I see that he never even ate the food we put out to trick him when we left.

And now, it dawns on me....in the end, Clifford wasn't the one that was fooled. Clifford went with her. He's with her now. And I'm all alone, looking at his bowl of dog food he didn't touch.

When your kid goes away to college:
by Beverly Beckham
"It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy. But it's not nothing, either... I feel like this little girl walked out the door today, not the fine young woman we've raised. Today is hard. Very hard.

"I wasn't wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another , and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. ``Can you pick me up, Mom?" ``What's for dinner?" ``What do you think?"

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

``They'll be back," my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ballgame. At a friend's. Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. ``How was school?" answered for years in too much detail. ``And then he said . . . and then I said to him. . . ." Then hardly answered at all.

Always, knowing his friends.

Her favorite show.

What he had for breakfast.

What she wore to school.

What he thinks.

How she feels.

My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She's been down this road three times before. You'd think it would get easier.

``I don't know what I'm going to do without them," she has said every day for months.

And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?

A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?

Eighteen years isn't a chapter in anyone's life. It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.

Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands -on. Now?

Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change. It's a sea change.

As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.

As for the wings analogy? It's sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.

Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that's what going to college is. It's goodbye.

It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.

But it's not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

``Can you give me a ride to the mall?" ``Mom, make him stop!" I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine...."

- Beverly Beckham

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 15, 2018 at 7:42 PM


And yo Mama feels the same way, hard as that is for you young folks to imagine. :-P xoxo

Posted by: sl on August 18, 2018 at 10:56 AM

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