Adventures Of Fatherhood

The first and last days of school for my kids are two of the more emotional days of the year for me.

That’s something I would have never seen coming up along the way during this parenting adventure.

There are so many proud moments for parents, but, for me, it’s these times when you inevitably take stock of what your kids are becoming, reflect on their achievements in the classroom, can see the gains on the social and maturation fronts and think about how much they have changed and learned that heavily move the heart.

A lot changes over the course of a school year, particularly when they are so young, and when the weight of that is realized there usually are a few “lump in the throat” moments over the finality of it.

Along with the personal side with your kids is the bond you develop over the course of the nine-month school year with the teachers. I can honestly say in my kids’ brief school careers they have each been blessed with thoughtful, experienced and caring teachers who we view as family members in many ways.

For Carson, 4 1/2, he has just wrapped up his first full year in the county school system’s Early Intervention Program, which he joined when he turned 3 years old because of his special needs. He will be entering pre-kindergarten in the fall.

Because he will be going to summer school to continue to work on his skills and address some of his delays, the last day of school was not as monumental for him. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity to reflect, like I assume it is for all parents. Carson is making strides and at his young age that’s gratifying on many levels.

For Beckett, 6, this was his last week as a kindergartner, and it was a big deal. When I asked him this week if he was excited or sad about not being in kindergarten after this week, he said in an uncharacteristically taciturn way, “I feel both.”

I was excited about his response because it shows to me some depth of thought and that he was reflecting for a bit on his year. He wasn’t simply looking to jump to the next grade. He was showing some sentimentality and I liked that.

While he is ready to move on, I think he also understands what it means. He will no longer have the same teachers, who I know he will miss. He also realizes the work is going to get harder next year and there will be less play, which I don’t think he is thrilled about at all. He has talked about all of those aspects in recent weeks with mixed emotions.

His parents share those feelings, but above all are proud of him and his brother for wanting to go to school each day. Each have had ups and downs throughout the school year, but through it all each wake up and want to go learn.

That can’t be taught, and we don’t take their will for granted. It’s one of the many things to be proud of during this last week of school.

The spring birthday party circuit has been in full swing and the last week has gifted us with two water park excursions.

I am always quick to volunteer for the water park birthday parties because I am a big fan. However, while I enjoy the slides and attractions very much, I cannot match my son Beckett, 6, on the water park passion front.

As I watched him run around two water parks over the last week with his friends, I kind of felt left out. Gone are the days when I needed to carry him up the flights of steps to the slides because he would get tired. He now leaps up them at a pace I admire. He no longer needs me to accompany him down slides on double tubes. He wants to go by himself or with a buddy. He is becoming independent.

At one point, while at Jolly Roger last Sunday, I came down a slide and he was nearby waiting his turn for another one. He simply waved, ran off with his friends and said, “have fun Dad.”

There was no sadness, but there was some confusion over my shortened title.

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, here are some quotes I came across this week.

Jim Valvano: My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

Bill Cosby: My father confused me. From the ages of one to seven, I thought my name was Jesus Christ!

Pope John XXIII: It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.

Mark Twain: When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Barbara Kingsolver: It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t.

Charles Wadworth: By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

Tony Dungy: “But there’s no substitute for a full-time dad. Dads who are fully engaged with their kids overwhelmingly tend to produce children who believe in themselves and live full lives.”