Tag: graduation

I Wish I Knew Then …

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I wish I knew then what I think I know now…but would I have lived life any differently?

By this time next week, my wife, twelve-year-old, and I will be waking up to a different dynamic in our home. My oldest will be gone. He’ll be waking up in a dorm room, probably both excited and nervous about the journey he is about to start. This upcoming experience, from my parent point of view, led me to thinking about my own journey that literally started the evening I returned home from my High School graduation. I left home that night, which is a story in itself.

A Letter To My Eighteen-Year-Old Self

I’ve read a few similar posts like this over the last year and they’ve always made me wonder what I might tell myself, assuming that was even possible, and, would it have made a difference? It did for John Conner in the second Terminator movie but that’s Hollywood. This is real life, and my thoughts and influences at that time were what guided me… Then.

Let’s just pretend for a few minutes that it’s possible. A letter from the future, to be opened and read that very first day on my own.

Dear Bill,

If you’re reading this, you’ve decided to leave home. You’re probably a little confused by now and wondering just what you’ve done. Last night was a turning point in your life. It wasn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. Standing on that football field after graduation only to find nobody was there is something that will eat at you for some time. I’d like to tell you why it happened like that but I don’t have a clue. My biggest advice is to get over it or you’ll spend too much time and energy wondering why. And while you’re at it, you should find forgiveness sooner than later. Trust me on this one.

So where do you go from here? What path should you choose? Regardless of what I tell you, you’re a stubborn kid and are going to do what you want. “No regrets” is what you’ll tell yourself later in life but you will have a few. And you’ll get over them. What words of wisdom do I have to share with you? Patience is something you won’t learn until later in life so I’m going to be brief or you will probably quit reading this. There are a few things however that you should know.

* Let’s establish one ground rule first. You’re eighteen. Although you think you know everything, you don’t. The reality of it is – you never will, and that’s okay. Lifelong learning should be your mantra.

* Adults. The first thing to know is that being an adult doesn’t automatically make one wiser, kinder, or more mature. Far from it. Some of the same BS you experienced in high school will continue throughout your life. I would love to tell you something different here but it’s just a fact and the sooner you realize that the better.

* Despite your wishes to pursue a career in the arts, you’re going to fall into a technical career. Embrace it. I know you fought this idea but you’ll learn to love it and it will provide you with a great living and you’ll be very good at it. You will travel, see many places within the U.S. and get to see a few places abroad. It can be as fulfilling as you want it to be. The best part is you’ll never lose the arts. Read. Write. Play the guitar. Who knows what can happen

* You convinced yourself that college is just high school with ashtrays. It’s so much more. So you f’d up and passed on scholarships. It would have been much easier on you had you just attended college immediately after high school. You’ll take the long route and still attend college albeit part-time. You’ll graduate. And with honors.

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* The eighties. I could write a book on this subject. Suffice it to say it will be called a decade of decadence for a reason. You’ll live to tell about it and it will make great writing fodder someday. Just be careful.

* The nineties. This is when you are going to find yourself, not that you were lost. You’ll find true friendship and a long lasting love. How will you know? For this first time in your life, you won’t be looking for any of it.

* You will be a father and it will be the greatest high you’ve ever experienced. You’re going to be scared, and for good reason. Understand why you are scared and the rest will take care of itself. Embrace both the responsibility and challenge that parenthood will bestow upon you.

Tata, Nana, & Me

Tata, Nana, & Me

* As time passes, and it will at an alarmingly faster rate, never forget where you came from. It’s easy to get caught up in a life that most of society deems successful. Much of that is overrated. You’ll figure out what truly is a measurement of success.  

* Understand a few guiding words and make them a part of your being. Love, live, learn, listen, light, character, forgiveness, compassion, loyalty, friendship, respect, ethics, and passion are but a few.

* Simplicity. I saw a Hispanic comedian once who described the mystery of Mexican Food. He was asked what a taco was and he said: meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, and cheese in a tortilla. A burrito? Meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and beans in a tortilla. A tostada? Meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and beans on a tortilla. Do you see where I am going with this?

It’s all going to work out kid,

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If We Were Having Coffee #9 – Four More Weeks

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If we were having coffee, I would have the usual flavors on hand to offer and a few choices for creamer.  We tend to always have French vanilla but we also have raspberry chocolate flavored creamer that is quite tasty with a donut shop blend. I’m going with a breakfast blend and French vanilla. Let’s head to my back porch and enjoy the morning shade.

It’s been about four weeks since I have posted anything which I believe is a new record. I’ve tried  to be consistent for the last year and post every week or at worst, every other week. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. Quite the opposite actually considering how much has happened over the last four weeks.

Immediately after my son’s college orientation, I had to work in Texas for a week. I got back home on July 4th at about one in the morning and thankfully had the next week off of work.  On Wednesday morning of my week off, my son left on a trip to Ireland, Wales, and England.  I didn’t write about it then for obvious safety concerns but he had a blast.  He texted us daily and sent loads of pictures each day of his travels, including a few letting us know he was of legal drinking age while there. He returned on Thursday of the following week and then we were in a mad dash preparing for his graduation party on the 18th.  He wanted Mexican food so we made enough food for about a hundred people to each have three tacos, beans, and rice.  We only had about sixty show up so needless to say we put some in the fridge and froze much of the rest.  We’ll be eating burritos and tacos for the next month, which really isn’t a bad thing. I think when it comes time for my youngest son’s graduation we just might have it catered.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in spite of all the craziness of the last four weeks, I have been reading books each evening to wind down.  We bought a bag full of used books at a local SPCA fundraiser and I’ve read James Rollins, Dan Brown, Lee Childs, Brad Meltzer, and an author I had never heard of: Jeffrey Archer.   I haven’t been writing so reading was a welcome break.  I needed that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is the next four weeks that have me concerned. Four weeks from yesterday, we will be dropping off our son at college.  We only have a few minor things to take care of now prior to his move in and hopefully will be able to enjoy his last four weeks with us somewhat stress free. I keep thinking there is more I need to talk to him about but all I can do is pray that his mother and I have done our job correctly and we are sending off a very grounded, respectful, and capable young man.  Well I suppose there’s one last thing… we need to teach him how to do his laundry.  Beyond that, I know he will be fine.

Four more weeks and life around here will return to some normalcy.  I think.

Bill

If We Were Having Coffee #8 – Not Your Usual Suspects

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If we were having coffee, I would have a number of choices to offer you today. I have hazelnut, Columbian, that decaf breakfast blend that won’t go away, and a Lavazzo Classic. I’m going with the Lavazzo and a Cold Stone Creamery Sweet Cream.  I’m really loving Lavazzo coffee. The package says it’s Italy’s favorite. I wonder if it is but I would bet there is a menu in Italy offering Pabst Blue Ribbon as America’s favorite beer. You just never know.

It’s raining here in New York so I can’t think of anywhere better to enjoy our coffee than my back porch and the beautiful view it offers of the woods behind my house. A teasingly slow drizzle that has graced us for hours now.

It’s been a busy three weeks since I have posted here. I’ve had a birthday, enjoyed Father’s Day, watched my youngest play his last Little League game, and last night, proudly watched my oldest son graduate high school. It didn’t rain last night so his high school held the graduation outside. Perfect.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the event was bittersweet for me as a parent and I suspect it was bittersweet for many of the teenagers graduating. I know it was for me as a teen. I remember standing around on the football field realizing it was over, my immediate thoughts being a reflection on what I had accomplished. I was a straight “A” student, top 5% of my class, and I played football.  That was it. And I had instant regrets that I had not gotten involved more. I then walked around in a daze looking for any of my family members who might have attended. There were none which is a long story in itself.

Because of that, and similar experiences my wife had in high school, we’ve continually pushed my son to make the most of his time. If you’ve read my posts before, you know he has despite the small case of senioritis he contracted sometime this year. He wasn’t alone. There seemed to be an epidemic but the kids worked through it along with their teachers and their parents.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’ve heard enough feel good graduation speeches that often sound the same. We are the new generation, we are going to change the world, it’s our time now, etc. etc., blah blah blah….  Last night was different.

Three speeches were given by students and although they were all good, there was one that resonated with me. The young lady who gave the speech has been one who has struggled in the past giving speeches. Chalk it up to shyness, youth, or whatever you want. She opened her speech confessing her feelings of being uncomfortable speaking in public. She then went on to discuss her gratefulness to the community, her educators, her friends, and her family for the impact and role they have all played in her and her classmates lives. Thankfulness. It was sincere, very personal, and it made me want to cry.

As parents, we would like to think we are solely responsible for molding or guiding our children. For lack of a better word, that’s bullshit. I don’t want to quote any It Takes a Village verbiage because I don’t particularly care where that speech originated (no offense to you fans) but last night I realized that it really does. Our children our influenced by their peers, their community, their educators, social media, their heroes, celebrities, their siblings, and of course their parents.  Not your usual suspects and all play a role, like it or not. Because of that, all bear some responsibility. They are kids. They are our kids, our friends’ kids, the communities’ kids.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m very proud of my son and his class of 2015. The realization that high school is over for him is still not sinking in today. Maybe it will tomorrow. We leave for new student orientation at the university he will be attending. The next chapter begins and with more people who will play a role in the man that my son is becoming.

Until next time…

My son

My son

 

If We Were Having Coffee #6

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If we having coffee I would once again have a number of choices to offer you: a few different breakfast blends, a blueberry blend, a Columbian blend, a cappuccino, and that decaf breakfast blend that just won’t go away. I’m going with Seattle’s Best Breakfast Blend and Irish Cream creamer. I’ll have to venture to the Pacific Northwest someday.

I’ve been traveling a little bit more for work this last month. A few day trips, a conference near Pittsburgh, and a trip to Cincinnati. I have another trip to Houston coming up which I always enjoy. Great Mexican Food and Whataburger highlight my trips to Texas. They are also as close as I get to my home state of Arizona so I take advantage of the culture similarity. Traveling there is a teaser that makes me a little homesick.  I get that way every now and then.  Although I love my life in New York, and it is home now, Arizona will always be my first home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we are busy planning all the things that go along with a senior graduating high school. June will be a busy month. I think we have most of the college details nailed down with the exception of some last minute local scholarships we know my son is getting but are unsure of the financial award yet. They all add up and thankfully will lessen the burden on my wife and me.

We are planning his graduation party for this summer and will most likely have it at a fire hall near my house.  It’s common to rent a fire hall up here. The cost is reasonable, and the money supports a volunteer based fire department.  We’ve never planned a party like this so we are treading on an unfamiliar path. It’s exciting.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all of this college preparation and graduation planning is bittersweet.  I am proud of my son for all of his accomplishments and the opportunity he has earned in being accepted into a very selective program at the university he will be attending yet I am saddened by the fact that he will be gone.  I know this is part of parenting but it doesn’t lessen the sadness I am feeling. Maybe as that dorm move in date gets closer, the excitement will trump the sadness.  Maybe not.

All I can hope for is that my wife and I have prepared him properly for the journey he is about to take. It’s been a little tough on us because we could not speak to him from experience.  My education was done entirely through a combination of night school and online classes while my wife’s was done while working prior to our children’s birth then finished up once they were in school. Neither of us know what it would be like to live on campus. What we do know though is what the priority will be: school. We both have confidence in him.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there will come a morning in late August where my wife, my twelve year old, and I will wake up and start our day a little differently than we have every other morning. There will be something missing that morning and unselfishly, it will be a good thing.

A short two hour drive away, my son will be waking up in a dorm room and starting his day a little differently than he has every other morning.  I can only imagine the thoughts that will be going on in his head that morning. The excitement and nervousness that his first day of class is about to start will most likely be overwhelming.

And then, like every other school morning, his cell phone will ding or vibrate, and there will be a group message that either my wife or I start that will state: Love you all, have a great day!

And we will all respond like we always do and there will be some sense of normalcy returned to us for the remainder of the day.

I wonder what his morning coffee experience will be like that day.

Until next time…

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