Friday, April 25, 2014


Parental lecture number fifty-eight has something to do with making choices. Good choices. This particular lecture is part of a series that has been in pretty heavy rotation since our son became a teenager. This is primarily because, as a teenager, our son has a lot more choices to make: What classes should I take? When should I take the SAT? Should I run the stop sign even if no one is looking? Who should I hang out with? The answers to most of these questions are pretty easy, if you've already lived through being a teenager. That's where all these lectures come from, after all. The worldly wisdom of parents who used to be teenagers themselves. Parents who just happened to be teenagers when they met in the first place.
That's where my brain starts to seize up just a little bit. My wife and I met when I was a senior and she was a sophomore in high school. I was just seventeen. She was only fifteen. At the time, we weren't dating, we kept each other company while we dated other people in a very tight circle of friends. We called ourselves "The Kids" way back when. My son has a very similar group. They call themselves "The Kind." Suddenly I find myself looking at this group and wondering which of these characters will stand up with my son at his wedding. Is the godfather of his child among this gangly group of adolescence? So many of the people with whom I faced life in my teens have fallen away. I still send Christmas cards to a number of them, but at the same time I maintain very close connections with a few of these Kids, and I wonder how many of my son's friends will still be on his mailing list in another decade. Or two.
My younger brother and I were talking about choices when we got together last week. He was remembering how he and his new wife drove to California from Minnesota to look for a place to put down roots. They landed in San Rafael after a very brief flirtation with Vallejo. They took a month to month lease on a one bedroom apartment, just to get the lay of the land. They've been there for seventeen years. Coincidentally, this is the same amount of time that my wife and I have been in our house, the one into which our son was born. Either we're very scared, or we make good choices. I hope it's the latter, and I hope my son can do the same.

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