This morning was his last first day of school. Twelve times I have dropped him off. Six at Willowdale. Three at Russell. And three at Millard North. Today no drop-off was required. His car, a 2007 black Infiniti with almost 200,000 miles, backed out of our driveway and began the cluttered 6.3 mile, forty-five minute drive to Millard North High School.
I can’t say I’ll miss the drive. But, I’ll miss the conversations. We have talked about everything over the years. The fun, playful conversations of early elementary school. In recent years the talks have been about debate, politics, and colleges with occasional trips down memory lane about things like soccer, our travels to Europe, the jokes we’ve played on people, and our time at the lake. I have picked him up and dropped him off thousands of times. That season of my life is now a memory as well.
I remember the day he was born. It happened in Sioux Falls. It happened over seventeen years ago. Sometimes I wish I could hit the rewind button. Or at least the pause button. But I can’t. None of us can. Time moving forward is two things: predictable and relentless.
A year from now I imagine you will be reading another reflection from me about dropping him off in a city like Washington D.C. or Atlanta or a town like Northfield, Minnesota. Those seem to be the most likely candidates for where he will spend his college years. But that is 365 days from now. Let’s make it through the day.
He’ll be busy this year. Debate starts in six days. The national championships are in June. Three days a week. A dozen or so weekends a year in places like Chicago and Minneapolis and Kansas City. Like many seniors, his academics are demanding. He has friends he likes to hang out with too.
Benjamin is imperfectly perfect. Flawed like everybody else I know, but I wouldn’t have him any other way. I’ll look forward to all the conversations I can get in the next twelve months. Maybe a few movies and soccer games and another trip or two or three.
I planted a sycamore tree in my backyard about five years ago. The reason is that my grandpa Adolf had a sycamore tree in his yard and I wanted to remember him and grandma Elva every time I looked out the window. Unlike most things I plant, the tree is flourishing. The roots must be growing deep. I guess the sports and the homework and the worship services and the serving and the debating and the playing and the praying was the kid the best attempt to help him grow healthy roots. I think they are deep and they will need to be. This can be a tough world.
The bird flaps its wings and flies from its nest in the sycamore tree. And so it is with the kid. Beginning to take flight. I’m still getting used to this new view and not sure how big of a fan I am of it, but it is a beautiful thing watching him use his wings and soar. Fly high, Benjamin.