Vail Daily column: Two down, one to go |

Vail Daily column: Two down, one to go

Richard Carnes
My View

Most families consisting of three kids make the above statement at least once in their lives.

Beginning with high school graduation, next comes graduation from college and then, if lucky (depending upon one’s perspective), marriage.

We count the milestones as they occur, usually in some sort of connection with the associated financial responsibilities or perhaps the freeing up of a room in the house or a parking spot.

Either way they are signposts along life’s path, marking the inevitable phases and stages most of us are fortunate enough to experience.

My bride and I have already said it once, with the two oldest graduating from high school back in ’05 and ’09, and the last but not least kid scheduled to sit at the diploma table in 2017.

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We said it again just this past Saturday with the ’09 Battle Mountain grad, who finally earned a landscape architecture bachelor’s degree (with a minor in environmental sustainability, which is actually a “thing,” I am told … ) from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Yes, that’s six years for those of you capable of quick, yet simplistic, math.

But why six, you ask?

Many reasons, of course, but the easiest to understand is the most obvious to those born and bred in Happy Valley.

The protective small town bubble most of us chose to raise children within has a downside, one that is repeatedly viewed but rarely understood by those same children until they have had the opportunity to leave and experience the so-called “real world” outside our pretend bubble borders.

It kicks most of them flat on their ass the first time out.

No matter how we try to prepare them, no matter how well-traveled they are, no matter how hard we attempt to expose them to the stark realities outside our borders, it’s rarely enough to top the value of personal experience.

And that’s why many fail to make it all the way to college graduation, and those that do usually take an extra year or two, at least.

But enough of the philosophical babble, for there we were last weekend, watching our proud young man do “the walk” with all the gratification and combined pride we could muster while shouting “Dude!” for the sole purpose of providing a little embarrassing memory that I know he’ll never forget.

No, no, I didn’t really do that (but thought about it).

He’s worked too hard and gone through too many extreme ups and downs for me to ruin such a climactic moment with a superficial flash of 55-year-old immaturity, which I am told I excel at from time to time.

With proper planning, he is now able to take about two months off before being completely on his own, when he will begin paying his own rent, utilities, food and bar tabs without the benefit of a monthly transfer from his oh-so-benevolent parents.

Meanwhile, Mom and I will decide what to do with his room and all the childish crap he was stupid enough to leave behind.

No, no, we really won’t do that, but we are cognizant of the inevitability of impending emptynested-ness (it’s not a word, but you know what I mean), and at this stage in our lives we’re not in any rush to get there.

We kind of enjoy having them around.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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