Benjamin and I drove to Northfield, Minnesota on Sunday after church. It’s about five hours from Omaha. Mostly on Interstate 80 and Interstate 35. The purpose of the trip was to visit two colleges—Carleton and St. Olaf. He fell asleep on the way home yesterday. It gave me a time of reflection about parenting and life.
- How the heck did that happen?
I remember taking him to kindergarten for the first time. It was like 48 hours ago. He nervously held my hand as I took him into the classroom. I’ve watched him play countless soccer games. Helped him with homework back in the day when I could still help him with homework. We’ve been to thirteen countries. I’ve dropped him off at school more than 2,000 times. He’ll drive next year. I’ll get to take him to school again in just over a year. Maybe Northfield. Maybe Washington D.C. or Atlanta. Maybe Boston. And a new chapter of our life will begin.
Parenting reflection: Protect these days. Make the most of these days. Enjoy these days. They go by so fast.
- Astrophysics. Dance. Biology. Philosophy.
The tour guides and the admissions people always asked the kids what they want to study. Good plan on their part. The most common responses were things like biology and economics. A young man at Carleton was determined to major in astrophysics. A girl at St. Olaf is going to study dance. Benjamin was the only one who mentioned philosophy. It wouldn’t be my choice for him. Communications is something he would be amazing at and if the whole law school thing doesn’t work out I’m guessing it is more marketable than philosophy. St. Olaf has a major in Norwegian. That would be so cool. I have all these amazing plans for him. But it’s his life and nobody knows his dreams better than him.
Parenting reflection: My task as a parent isn’t to require him live out my dreams for him. My job is to encourage him to discover his own dreams and help him be successful in making those dreams come true.
- Burgers in the dark by the river.
We were out and about exploring on Monday night. The sun set and we were hungry. Most the restaurants in the city were closed. We saw some lights and heard some music from a little bar across the river from our hotel. We walked across the bridge, into the pub, and asked if they served anything other than beer this time of night. The hostess smiled, gave us a menu, and told us to find a seat. We did. By the river. We both had a burger. He had fries. I had onion rings. We talked about fears and food and hopes and hacks. Sometimes we just sat there and said nothing. Ninety minutes later I was thinking these were some of the best ninety minutes of the trip I’ve had in a while. Totally unplanned and totally sacred.
Parenting reflection: Life’s best moments are never scripted and rarely planned. Enjoy these moments when they happen.