Sunday, August 30, 2009

Room Enough for the Old Kit Bag

Today's the day we move our daughter, Michelle, back to Eastern (Connecticut State University) in Willimantic (CT) (where I grew up, being called a 'census-designated place and former city' was grounds for a beat down), as she starts the fall semester of her senior year. This will be an all-day (and all of the night) project, especially since she actually starts classes tomorrow.

Sigrid, my wife and Michelle's mother, has organized the move West (well, sort of west and a little North, come to think of it), because she has two cars to pack-my Forester and Michelle's Mitsubishi Mirage. Michelle and I will place the stuff in our respective vehicles, my wife will let out a Big Sigh, mutter some imprecation in German, and then put the items exactly where she wants them (if only she could be cloned, all of this would go much faster). In essence, Michelle and I are along to slow her down. We go through this every year, usually twice, once going to Eastern when a semester begins and once coming home at the end of it. I'd miss it if it didn't happen.

I have and will always have difficulty seeing our children as adults. Her brother, Patrick is twenty-seven, and Michelle is in her early twenties (and can legally purchase sparkling beverages though her fossil of a father seems to blanch ever so slightly when he watches her take a sip), but in my heart (if not eyes) they're still carpet crawlers, which makes interaction a challenge at times.

The house all four of us moved into when Sigrid and the children joined me from Germany was just the right size back in the fall of 1991 but it seems emptier every day as in recent years it's just Sigrid and I, with 'the children' doing exactly what we were told back in Parents' University (PU) they were supposed to do, grow into adults and make their own way in the world.

And they have, though not without sidebars and false starts all of which is part of the process, and they seem to be, for the most part, happy which, again from the course at PU, I was told was the only important thing. This, as I said, is the start of Michelle's senior year and I'm not especially clear what majoring in performance arts (which is what I think she's doing) will lead to, but she has the rest of her life to find out and the intelligence and compassion to be good at doing whatever it takes to be great at it.

I just hope there's enough room to pack all the worry and concern for her safety, health and happiness (yes, John, I'm talking about you and the heartache you caused) that I know, as her Dad, I'm gonna want to put in there. I wish I had a box to store that quickening of the heart when the phone rings after ten o'clock at night on a Thursday along with the movies I always make as I reach to pick up the receiver.

I finally found the only thing harder than being a child, being a parent. Hopefully, all of our children can survive our upbringing and hear their own ringing phones someday. I know you prefer "ChellK" and make that face when I call you call you "Mike" so I'm glad I won't see whatever face you make when I say good luck this semester, Itty-bit. Love, Dad.
-bill kenny

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