We’re now in the final weeks of May, and I’ve been busy trying to keep up with all that is involved with graduating seniors. Perhaps that isn’t the best choice in phasing; more like watching time fly by like the Time Traveller in H G Wells’ The Time Machine when he jumps into the future. At least that’s what it feels like. My twin boys graduate high school in a scant 18 days. Emotionally, I can’t put how I’m feeling into words. Perhaps it’s overwhelming, perhaps I’m numb. Probably both. Whoever said life flashes before your eyes when you’re dying probably had kids that became adults before they noticed.
Last night all three of mine went to prom. It’s a bit odd that my daughter, who is now encroaching drinking age, attended this event. But she was invited and it’s simple luck that they all get dolled up for this occasion. As is my duty as a parent, I armed myself with a camera and went all annoying parent on them before they left. Upon reviewing these photos, I was struck with how old and simultaneously young they all looked. Much to my surprise, and perhaps this is the numbness factor, I didn’t feel emotionally overwhelmed by it. You know, the whole, “My babies are all grown up” maudlin experience common to the parental species. The fact of the matter is that I have too much to think about and too many time constraints to get caught up in the moment. It may be a guy thing — trapped by the logistics and the mechanics of events — but I haven’t made time to have a proper emotional meltdown. There’s simply too much other shit to worry about right now.
I need to get invitations out for the boys’ graduation party, which I was smart enough to set a date for a while back that didn’t run headlong into other graduation parties (as of yet, anyway). I need to get these printed, an expense I’m not entirely prepared for. I need to arrange decorations, food, memorabilia, etc for the party. I need to stay on top of them to ensure that they both are giving the proper attention to their classes in these final days of school so that they don’t completely phone in their efforts. I need to stay on top of them to get their driver’s licenses, which isn’t so much of a graduation requirement as it is a means to finally retire the dad taxi business that I’ve been the Owner/CEO of for the better part of two decades. I need to plan for (not to mention save money for) their graduation present of a week-long road trip to New York and a good portion of the east coast. I need to keep on them about finishing up all of their requirements so that they can attend McNally Smith College of Music this fall. Dr. Spock was oddly mum about this shit in his epic parenting tome.
Something the Ex and I always seemed to look forward to was this imaginary finish line; a time when our children would grab the handlebars of their life with both hands and jet off into the sunset. I don’t think either of us ever stopped to think of what happened to us as we coughed on the dust left in their wake. It’s very much the feeling one gets in the moments when you toss that perfect skipping rock across the glass-like water — okay, now what?
While I let you digest my comparing the richness that is parenting young children into young adults into chucking small flat rocks into the great yonder, let’s be honest for a moment. There is no finish line. Come what may, I will always have a large responsibility in their lives. For reasons that still baffle me, my children still look to me for guidance and advice and there’s a fair to good chance they always will. Sure, there will be times in which my words of wisdom will appear to them about as useful and Jell-O roofing nails, but everyone goes through that. The fact is, and always will be, I am their father.
But I don’t have time to stop and reminisce all things dad-related. Those invitations aren’t going to print and send themselves.