Another milestone out of the way |

Another milestone out of the way

I wasn’t sure what to expect over these last few weeks, but knew the events would fall somewhere between “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”Last August our longtime family of five became, at least in a logistical sense, a family of four, when the oldest child moved thousands of miles away for college.Therefore the first half of December had been full of joyous anticipation – not for Christmas – but for the arrival of Mr. First Born and my pre-conceived expectations and fatherly concerns over how the family would respond.Surely both younger boys would do their utmost best to impress: the 15-year-old boasting in some testosterone-induced trance about conquests past, present and future as a freshman in high school, and the 6-year-old vying for attention with, “Hey Chris, lookit me! Lookit me! Lookit me!” as he shows his X-Box skills and newly acquired abilities to antagonize the dog.Mom would, of course, check his inventory of socks and underwear while constantly questioning his overall wardrobe of choice, and probably even ask to check his teeth to make sure his flossing abilities had not waned since moving to Florida.I, unfortunately, had neglected to consider my own reactions, which means my personal emotional blinders of ignorance were strapped around my big, stupid head up until the very moment I saw his smiling face at the Eagle airport.Big, stupid mistake.The emotional wave began with an immediate flashback to his birth at the Vail Valley Medical Center in a toilet (that’s another story I’m saving for later, perhaps just before his wedding), and did not crest until I was overcome with the incredible sadness that I had felt the moment he drove away from the house that sunny morning last summer. I hugged him like a long lost childhood friend I had not seen in four decades, even though it had barely been four months.”Let’s go see Brokeback Mountain,” I immediately said, my eyes filling with puddles.No, I’m kidding, but I damn near felt that way toward my own son for a moment (though certainly not in some ultra-perverted pedophiliac fashion, you sick-minded freaks who just smirked at that thought). I just simply love my son, and felt stronger so at that exact moment than I had in awhile.Making the long trek outside to the car (almost a full minute!), the younger brother proudly yet nonchalantly took my keys and proceeded to blow his older brother’s mind by driving us home (he had just received his driver’s permit a week or so earlier). I was typically paranoid as we began, overreacting just like a father should, and then the mature voice from the back seat calmly said, “Relax, Dad. Calm down. Don’t you realize all the yelling you did at me when I got my permit made it even harder for me to concentrate on the road?”I shut my mouth, closed my eyes, and began fighting tears over my certain anguish and heartbreak upon driving him back to the airport in another two weeks. Yes, I was a flip-flopping mess worthy of a John Kerry joke. Besides, maturity AND common sense at the same time. Where’d that come from? My loins?Anyway, I was unwittingly setting the entire family up for a holiday disaster all because I was the one having an obvious problem with his arrival and impending departure.Luckily, the rest of the family did not have to suffer my insecurities for long, as the Christmas season was stuffed full with skiing, eating, drinking, talking about school and music and girls while sitting in the hot tub together, watching him interact with his buddies that he had not seen in a while, and helping him devise a mental road map for success in the real world. For a moment, it was like he had never left.He returned to Florida with no one crying this time around (OK, I might have sulked for a few hours, but so what?) and we quickly found ourselves back to our regular routines.The very next day I received a phone call:”Hey Dad!””Hey, Chris. What’s up?””Tyler (Doyle, his roommate) and I are on I-4 trying to find a Best Buy.””Un-huh.””Are you on your computer?””Yep. Aren’t I always?””Um, would you mind looking up Best Buy locations in Orlando and telling us where to turn?”Like I said, we were all back to “normal” in no time.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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