Happy Birthday to the First Tater Tot

I’m sure my kids would love that I refer to them as tater tots even though they are both adults. Good thing I know that neither one of them will ever actually read my blog. There’s a pretty good chance they aren’t even aware it even exists. So, I guess I can say whatever I want about them since they will likely never know. Good thing for them I will only say good things.

My son is 23 today. It is another birthday of one of my kids when I won’t see them on the actual day. All four of us work today and he lives and works 30-45 minutes away from our house. It’s not so easy to do the birthday celebration on the actual day anymore. He will come home on Saturday and we will go out to lunch at the same place we’ve gone for his birthday for at least the last ten years. My kids are very traditional.

I’m having trouble deciding where to start writing about him. I will start with a story from a vacation that told me what kind of person he was. We were at the Grand Canyon and on a bus. We were all sitting separate from each other, but we all had seats. The bus stopped a few more times and picked up more people. When the bus stopped, an older woman came over and asked us if he was our son and then told us how impressed she was that he immediately got up and offered his seat to her with no prompting from anyone and that we should be proud that he would do that even though we weren’t watching. It’s good to know that even then he was doing the right thing on his own and not because we were there to tell him to.

In addition to being the type of person above, he has also shown perseverance and a willingness to work and be self-sufficient.

Perseverance – When all of the joy was sucked out of baseball by adults and he headed to high school, he still wanted to do something active, so he tried out for track and cross country. He ran for a few years and then stopped when he had to make a choice between the team and a job. He didn’t just quit being active, though. When cross country wasn’t going to work out, he and his friends started an ultimate frisbee team at the school and played in tournaments around the area. he could have easily just quit sports, but he kept going and is still playing ultimate today. When he got to college he realized pretty quickly that his declared major wasn’t right for him. He tried pre-med and that wasn’t the right fit either. He went to the people there who help people figure out the right track and landed on wildlife and ecology and never looked back. He got an internship for the summer and did research that he just presented at a poster session at a conference. He is in a year-long fellowship at a place he loves and just graduated in December. He is a great example of never giving up.

Self-sufficient – As soon as he was able he got his driver’s license and started looking for a job. He has worked ever since. He stayed at the same place, but a different location when he went to college. He worked the desk at a dorm for a couple of years(and has a plaque recognizing his outstanding work there). He worked for a place that does animal education classes. I need to learn how he always gets the job when he interviews. He moved out of the dorms after a couple of years and into a house with friends. All of the original people are gone, but he is still there working to find new roommates as others move away. It would be easier for him to move back home for a while, but he is determined not to do that.

The one lesson I think we could all learn from his life so far is not to settle for what is easy and convenient. Keep working and learning to find what is the right track for you. I’m very proud of the person he has become.

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Happy Birthday to A Tater Tot

Today is my daughter’s 19th birthday. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I will not see her on her birthday. I’m at work and she is out with her school friends. It’s the new world of being an empty nester. We will go out Saturday when she is home for spring break.

I thought I would write a little post about her and then do the same for my son on his birthday in June(I’m not playing favorites!).

My daughter had a difficult start. She broke her leg when she was a toddler(actually I broke it. It’s a story for another post). She fell out of a toy jeep and knocked a tooth out long before she should be losing teeth, She had a speech issue and had to go to hours of speech therapy to learn to talk. The speech issue meant she started school as a special ed kid and had to work harder on the language parts of school. She was fortunate to be redistricted to a new school after 2nd grade where she started fresh and didn’t have teachers and administrators who would expect less of her because of the special ed/speech therapy thing. I know that most teachers wouldn’t treat her differently, but all it takes is one bad one to make life difficult. The new start was good for her and she did well. She’s always been good academically and then was fortunate to find a good group of friends in middle and high school that helped her in the social part of life. The part I failed at in high school. She’s found a god group of college friends as well and did very well academically her first semester in college. I’m very proud of her.

She was the weird kid who always told me things, even when she had a bad grade in a class. She has the same weird sense of humor as me. She’s probably the only person on the family who actually thinks I’m funny. So far, she seems to still enjoy spending time with me. I’m hoping that won’t change.

It’s been a little sad not spending her birthday with her, but I’m happy about who she has become and the she is enjoying time in the city with her friends.

Empty Nest Day

Today is the day. For the first time since 1996 we will have no kids living at home. We are loading the car this morning and moving our daughter in to her dorm. I’m not sure I’m ready for that drive back in an empty car. I’m hoping I can hold off on the crying until I am safely in the car so I don’t embarrass the rest of the family.

I’ve written a lot about the coming empty nest, so there’s not a whole lot left to say about the empty nest thing. It is time for m to figure out who I am in this phase of life. It’s time for my wife and I to figure out who we are as a couple in this phase of life. It’s time for me to figure out how to fill all of the empty hours that used to be time with my daughter.

I will miss having her at home to tolerate me being weird. I will miss having her at home to watch the dumb comedies with me. I will miss our Survivor nights on Wednesday nights. I will probably even miss the mess she leaves behind in every room she inhabits.

I’m sure it won’t take long for me to get used to the empty nest, but the next few weeks will not be easy.

Day 16 – What I Miss

This challenge comes on the morning that my son is heading back to school and my daughter is in the middle of high school midterms so what I miss is easy. I miss when my kid were little and not moved out and close to leaving. I miss the simpler times when school wasn’t stressful and I spent most of my time off outside with the kids. I miss playing catch in the backyard, playing basketball in the driveway, taking them to the playground and just spending so much time with them. I miss the early days of coaching baseball before other adults sucked the joy out of the game. I miss winters at the gym watching and coaching basketball. I miss the drive to gymnastics with Jessica and waving at her when she walked past during class. I miss the dance studio and being a part of the recitals in the dad’s dance(or I will miss dad’s dance when it happens this year). I miss snow days when we couldn’t wait to go out and play in the snow. I miss Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. I miss my little kids, but I love my young adults. Now I need to stop typing so I can go somewhere to cry.