The Future isn’t coming…it’s here! – End of the Day for July 5, 2014

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We were out at friends for dinner tonight and fell to discussing planning for their next eclipse watching trip. They have travelled all over the world, including Mongolia, Australia and Turkey. They been trying to cajole us into joining them on a trip for years and it looks like 2017 might be the year. A total eclipse will be visible across most of the United States in 2017, practically in our back yard, and they are scouting locations in Wyoming for viewing.

When they gave us the dates of the eclipse, I immediately started to think about school dates for Joseph and how we probably wouldn’t be able to go. Rosanne then reminded me, gently, that by that time Joe will have completed his first year of college. Yikes! Her schedule as a college professor will impact our calendar more than Joe’s by then. Heck, he might not even be living with us, depending on which school he attends.Time marches on, whether we are ready for it or not.

Calendar 2017

I am experiencing a lot of these shocks lately. Change is coming fast and furious. This year, as a Junior, Joe will be visiting colleges, taking SAT tests and a host of other large steps into the future. That isn’t to say I feel bad about these changes. I have always wantd him to live his own life and do what matters most to him, it just takes a little adjustment on my part to change my own habits and patterns as he grows older. I am sure Joe will be ready to leave the nest at 18, but, being older, it is going to take me a little longer to adjust.

It is quite amazing to see our parental roles shifting and changing. You spend so much time in the “kid” years and can never quite imagine what it will be like when they are adults. Then, suddenly it is upon you. One large part of you slips away and another, gradually takes its place. Skills you once found so necessary are abandoned and new skills musbe found.

One great change are the spasms of “conversation” that suddenly occur now. Joe is a pretty common teenager and isn’t always the most communicative, but these days he will start conversations about the most varied topics. It can range from interpersonal issues with friends, to complex business questions to, the other night, the history of the space program.

I have had to adapt to this change. When he finds a need or desire to talk, I need to stop, set aside my work or entertainment and talk with him. Sure, I might not always want to take time away or not be terribly interested in the topic, but I need to take every opportunity to talk with him, while we have the time together and he has the inclination. It will too quickly be gone and I can’t waste these moments through my own insensitive inattention.

I expect that this is more than just a short term change, though. This is the new normal. From now on, I will have to be extra vigilant for those times when he wants to talk, wants to share or, perhaps, even wants some advice. I couldn’t ignore his needs when he was an infant and I can’t ignore them now, either. Sure, his needs have changed greatly, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need me as a father anymore. The specifics of our roles may change, but the underlying needs of father and son will always remain. Whether teaching him to ride a bike or coaching him through his first job interview, he still needs me — perhaps now more than ever — and it is my job to pay attention and help wherever I can.

It is a great reminder that you always have to be aware of the changes in your life and adapt accordingly. Ignoring change is foolhardy and can damage your life in a number of ways. It can damage your relationships too. Pay attention, every day, and don’t let life just slide by. Life moves on far to quickly and, if you don’t pay attention, you may find that you have missed some of its most important moments.

Previously on End of the Day:

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