I caught myself as I was putting laundry down the chute the other night. I had been talking with my wife about how we might spend our Spring Break. Where would we go? What would we do? Who would we see? And for the first time in eighteen years, we were making plans that might include just the two of us. All of these years had provided us with a public school calendar that synced up effortlessly with the family who was devoted to that tried and true system. It was part of the rhythm of our lives. Now our son was away at college. Even if the dates were the same, who knew what new set of priorities would show up to keep the time from making a difference.
For years, we had weekly meetings with the three of us sitting around the kitchen table on Monday evenings. One of the categories we filled in, week after week, was "Family Fun." Sometimes we scheduled a trip to the movies, or a lunch and a bike ride. We could do this, a week at a time. We had fun, as a family. Back in those days, we set the agenda. We were the parents. It's what parents do. By the time our son was a senior in high school, way back last year, we found ourselves sometimes leaving that spot on our plan blank. Sometimes weeks would go by and we would wonder where our son had gone, even though we would wake up the next morning and find him asleep in his room. Sometimes he would be asleep long enough that whatever family fun we had planned had to be rescheduled because he was so tired from whatever fun he had been having the night before.
He was having his fun. We were having ours. We were having fun. And every so often, we would get back together and do just that once again. As a family. These were the road trips, the adventures and vacations we took when school was out. Last year, we didn't go to Disneyland. We made campus visits. We toured the campus of the school where my son now lives. The place he now calls "home."
Now when we talk, several phone lines are involved, but we talk about getting together again to have some fun. As the laundry tumbled down the chute, I realized the next time we all ended up in Disneyland together, it would most likely mark his first ironic visit to the happiest place on earth. He's a liberal arts major, after all. And I wouldn't miss it for anything.