by Dave Markwell

This morning I dropped my fourteen year old son, Aden, off for his high school orientation. He will be a freshman at Mount Rainier High School, my alma mater. As I am prone to do, I became a bit melancholy after leaving him at the doorstep to another stage in his life. Driving down the hill to coach my 9am CrossFit class, I knew that I was entering another stage of my life as well.

As I get older, I recognize less and less the passing of time. My own milestones are further apart than they used to be. The only nominally significant tell is my hair. As I watch it diminish in some spots and grow in others, I am reminded that I am, indeed, aging. But for the most part, my kids’ little evolutions provide the most powerful evidence of life moving on.

Reflecting on my son’s first day of kindergarten (where I drove away crying like a baby), I thought about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. I have seen this boy through everything. From butt-wipes and baby teeth to hobbies and interests and ideas, I have been there offering my perspective, whether he wanted it or not. We have grown together through our time shared.

A couple of weeks ago, my boy and I took our annual road trip around the state. We fished, camped, ate crappy food and talked. On a dusty back road with our windows down and music up, I realized that our conversations have changed. These changes mirror HIS changes. His questions and thinking have changed. What he cares about is different. “Hey, Dad, I was thinking….” are words that always pique my interest, because I never know what is going to come next. I am always interested to know what he is thinking. When he shares his thoughts, which is not as common as it used to be, I am always intrigued. He is contemplating some important stuff and I am glad that he will occasionally include me in his quest for understanding.

I often describe having kids as being the “best pain in the a#s there is.” They frustrate and confound and annoy. They make messes and inconvenience and compromise our sleep and peace. They also enlighten us to what truly matters in life: they do. We will sacrifice all that we have to provide for them. We will give things we didn’t know we had to support and encourage them to learn and grow and be happy.

Dropping my son off at high school made me feel old. My own long-lost years of beautiful youth stared me down and smiled. I smiled back. Life is life. It moves on, whether we like it or not. I am choosing to like it. I can’t help it. Watching my son take new steps towards his own great life is pretty great. Seeing him developing into a man of worth and kindness is an equitable exchange for every minute of lost sleep and every lost hair I endure. It’s the fairest deal I have ever found.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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