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Go on now, Fly Kid

Don Rogers
Don Rogers, Vail Daily Managing Editor and father of two.
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So, what color to paint the room? When do we trade out the bed for a desk? I’m still sweet on a big roll-up. Always wanted a home office.

Our eldest will graduate from Eagle Valley High School in days now. He turned 18 in April, pretty sure Dad was joking about kicking him out of the house, a little less sure about Mom’s musings about charging rent.

Make no mistake, his mother misses him already. Her baby ” red goatee and all ” has grown up. He’s old enough to vote, to fight, to marry, to start his own family, to wield a razor daily (hint, hint).

We’re OK with the little-used razor and voting parts, his Democratic mother more so than his still-Republican-leaning father. But these are his choices from here.

Mom anticipates the empty nest with greater anxiety than Dad. For her, it’s the hugs, the long talks, the presence she’s felt intensely since he inhabited her womb. All those noisy daily routines that soon will become echoes only punctuated by the longer silences with one fledgling gone from the nest. Dad? Well, those affectionate punches hurt more than they once did. Getting the kid out mowing the lawn always did take about as much effort as doing the job myself. The good leftovers in the fridge were always gone before I could get to them.

So, well, I’m looking forward to one less person to fight when changing the channel to the basketball game, one less set of grades to holler about, one less time opening my wallet to discover that $20 I had stashed there is gone, one less kid in MY bed with my wife when I’m ready for lights out. One less smart aleck in a whole family of ’em; maybe I’ll even win an argument on occasion now.

Of course, by now you realize I’m lying. Through my teeth. This is what I tell the kid.

The hell with you, then. Leave, go ahead, see if I miss you. Harrumph. Gone and grown up on us, the very nerve!

Who was there when you were a preemie under a french fry warmer at the hospital, fingers the size of fish hooks, whole body that would be lost in my briefcase? Who brought such tenderness from your mother, whose sharp elbows in Dad’s side at night delivered you for feeding? You were a hungry little sucker, too.

Who was there to catch the first time you laughed and it wasn’t just gas, when the cat fell off the rail of your crib? Who wondered when you rolled everywhere, skipping the crawling stage, agonized with the torture of getting whisked away on the school bus those first few times, cheered your first hit, clapped at your first Christmas concert? Eh? Think that was easy? Who threw you out on three strikes when the umpire didn’t show up for the big game? Who did you blame when you got beaned in the butt the next time up?

Who smiled encouragingly at the sounds of a bull elephant in severe distress coming out of your first saxophone? Whose fatherly dreams did you dash that day after he’d made you run cross country for the other high school with the ulterior motive of getting you in shape for basketball? You think that was easy looking forward to going out in the snow to see you race on Nordic skis instead of basketball games in a nice, warm gymnasium? Who drove you on your first date? Heh, heh. Now that was fun.

So, graduation, and then one last summer with you before you head to college.

Then, at last, I get your room as my office, with you before you head to college.

Then, at last, I get your room as my office, maybe even that desk I’ve always coveted. More of your mother’s time to myself. Some peace and quiet; well, when your sister is out, anyway.

Will I miss you? Nah. Not a bit. Now, go kiss your mom and get on with your life, kid.

In truth this has not sunk in. I’m more excited for him than anything. The great adventure really begins from here. My greatest memories came after high school, creating my own life in young adulthood, successes and mistakes alike. His will be the same.

The kid has no idea about what lies in store for him. But I know he’s ready, and he knows he’s ready. This is life, after all. You want the young’uns to grow strong and able to care for themselves, and then, perhaps, their own families in time.

I’m just not sure I’m quite ready for the parent’s side of this transition.

So I focus on what I can handle. Now then, what color, and shall that be a roll-up or something more modern for my new home office?

Vail, Colorado


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