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Watching from the roost

Don Rogers

The nest will begin to empty next fall when the older fledgling flies off to college.The wing feathers have filled in nicely. He’s flapping in anticipation. And I’m more excited for him than fretting about missing the kid I still remember vividly as a preemie in a french fry machine in a mountain town hospital in northern California, head in blue sock that would barely stretch over my fist.How time has flown. Life began in the mountains, the best of childhood came in the mountains, and now he’s chosen a mountain town college, Fort Lewis, in Durango.I sense a theme here.This choice feels right to the parents. The area and school fit his interests and scale. The professors do the teaching, and the classes stay small. He thinks he’ll major in anthropology, a strength for the college on Mesa Verde’s doorstep. Durango Mountain will have to do as a substitute for Vail and Beaver Creek. But considering the alternatives, that ain’t so bad. Outdoor emphasis, right size, good fit for how he learns best, pretty campus overlooking town with spectacular mountain views. And the local brew pub has a killer stout for when Dad visits. Perfect.I want to move there.He’s got a decent chance to run cross country for Fort Lewis, too. From a parent’s perspective, as well as his own, that would be better than perfect. The time he has to beat to earn his way on is challenging but doable, so he’ll be working hard all summer training.So he’s got tough but doable goals, an opportunity to take his passion for running to another level, the discipline that comes with this, and maybe a head start making new friends. It may or may not work out for him, but knowing he has a chance is a great, great start.I’m too excited for him to think about missing him. I’m sure that will come in time, as well. Besides, we’ll still have his sister at home for a few more years.He’s ready. That’s where the bulk of my confidence comes from. I watched closely as he made his contacts, interacted with other kids during orientation, sat in on a class, initiated contact with the cross county coach. The shrimp in a sock has grown up so much.We had a chat after a difficult day when he was 14. You know, I said, this is part of the great circle of life. He rolled his eyes. Yeah, I said, right now your parents drive you crazy. It’s supposed to be this way. As you get closer to leaving home you’ll like us less and less. But it’s just part of the separation process, so you’ll be ready to leave home when it’s time.A nod. Makes sense. He gets it.But you know, I continue, it works that way for your parents, too. Now that you are a teenager, as you get older we’ll like you less and less.There it was. The eyes got wide. Little sucker hadn’t thought of that. Hah! Of course, it was a big fat lie. They exasperate you, but you stay in their corner – biggest fan, toughest critic – the whole time.It might be that I remember leaving home, the whole new adventure, in the important ways life just starting.His turn now. He’s ready. No fighting this part of the circle, this next chapter in all our lives. He and his wings to try out. His mother and I watching from our roost. I’m liking his choices, and looking forward to that stout.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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