by John Roach
For the last several springs a mom robin has chosen to make her nest above a porch light just to the right of our front door. In early spring, while it is still cold, she flutters madly about with small wisps of grass until her nest is made.
Shortly thereafter you can peek over the edge of her construction effort to spy baby robins chirping blindly. I assume Ma and Pa Robin prefer the warmth provided by the light and the shelter from spring winds that the porch provides.
The perch also offers haven from the neighborhood cats, who sit in predatory stillness in the driveway and stare up at the nest, waiting for a single misstep by the robin family.
The baby birds grow quickly. By late spring they have flown away. The nest is vacated.
It all happens so fast.
This will be a special spring around our household. One of our own is perched on the edge of the nest. Our eldest, daughter Kate, graduates from high school.
This too, has happened so quickly.
Just how we got from the first day of kindergarten at Leopold Elementary to the last days at Edgewood High School is a blink. It is not possible to recount it all in real time. What you are left with is lessons, impressions, memories and a host of new friendships you never anticipated.
When you begin a family you are very conscious of what you must teach your children.
Don’t put that in your mouth.
Don’t cross that street.
Don’t worry, everything will work out.
But now as our circle of parents and families prepare to send off this year’s flock of newly mined adults, I am struck not by what we have taught my daughter. Instead I am most thoughtful of what she, her friends, and their families have given us.
Kate and her friends have taught me about the glories of CD burning and the freedom of downloadable music.
They have taught me about instant messaging.
They have taught me that this generation of boys have remarkably large feet.
I have also learned, through observation, the migratory patterns of teens.
Like friendly grackles finding a tree or phone line, they assemble in the early evening and take flight. They then flutter down to settle en masse in a chosen basement to watch the latest Adam Sandler epic or horror flick. Suddenly on a whim, phone call, opinion, or simple boredom, they all take flight, leaving as quickly as they arrived, looking to descend on another basement in another house. As much as I will miss my daughter when she heads off to college, I also will miss her friends. The have become a joyful constant in our household.
I will miss Lizzy freely perusing our cupboard for snacks while she fires off one incredibly witty comment after another.
I will miss the flurry of activity and pictures before Homecoming and Prom.
I will mis Kathryn’s keen analytical skills, total recall and shy smile.
I will miss the benign conspiracy and good counsel from the other parents.
I will miss game night—all of them.
I will miss Jason and B actually having a real conversation with the male parental upstairs while the rest of the gang is downstairs.
I will miss Sara’s smile, Becky’s grin and Kelly’s energetic entrances.
I will miss all the guys like Brad, Brice, Brian and Clint who looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said, “Hi Mr. Roach.”
I will miss less so the guys who stared at the floor and said nothing.
Most of all I will miss the large pile of tennis shoes in our front hallway. This is my favorite sign that the herd has assembled at our house. It is accompanied by the corresponding laughter and shrieks rising up from the basement and the dutiful “Hi Mr. Roach” that greets me when I make my regularly scheduled walk through the sprawled throng to make sure that all is well and right on the bottom floor.
I will miss all of this. And all of them.
When they play the graduation march, and the birds on the edge of the nest make their way down the aisle, I will quietly thank them. They have made me a happier human and a better dad. Better prepared for the odyssey of Kate’s younger sister and brother and their friends who, as I write and smile, are already laughing our basement and raiding our cupboard.
Stay in touch
Come visit at Thanksgiving break.
Leave your tennis shoes in the front hall, just inside the door from our front porch light.
The one with the robin’s nest on it.