One of the things about being a parent is that it's bittersweet. At the end of the day, it's your job to take the people you love more than anyone else in the world, and prepare them to leave you. With each passing year, they change. The tiny infants you cradled, the toddlers you celebrated, the children you played with, all fade away and are replaced by a new stage of development; a new form of them so to speak. As I look at my grown sons, I realize that, in some ways, they as infant or toddler are as gone from our life as if they had been kidnapped by gypsies.
And yet, they're still here. They're doing what they should be doing, and that's moving on. The older two are in college, while our youngest is looking for full time work to pay for his schooling, while waiting a year or two as he accumulates funds. That is for avoiding going into debt and being able to pay their way through school.
Meanwhile our youngest is still homeschooled. Though it's difficult to do, especially as my Mom needs constant 24/7 supervision, we've opted to continue given the hot mess that has become our public education system. As his brothers have moved on, it's been tough on him. The flip side of them having worked hard to include him in their reindeer games has been a certain withdrawal as each one moves on in life, leaving him behind.
To balance that, they all try to get back together at least one day or weekend a month and do things with him like we always did as a family when they were growing up. At different times, different ones are available for one on one fun or time together with him. But they do try to set aside a together moment to help him still be part of their brotherhood, which is no easy task. This October we may actually get a couple days, given how things worked out.
So over the last week, we had our annual 'full, rich week' that tend to happen around October. As I've said before, Fall is to us what springtime is supposed to be: that time in which we come alive. In ages past, we did much more and went more places throughout the fall. Now, we do things with our youngest, but probably a little less than we did. Nonetheless, this last week was planned ahead for something fun and centered on him. My sister took my Mom to take care of her for this last weekend, and we made plans accordingly.
It all started a week ago, with tickets to the Ohio State v. Indiana game. My second son was slated to go with me this year. This will likely continue as long as they're anywhere nearby, me going with them in turns. As an alumnus, we get a chance to get a pair of tickets each year. Given that universities are largely about making money, those who are alumni who don't give large amounts end up in the nosebleed seats.
Anyway, he switched with my third son because our soon to be police officer took quite a hit. He had taken a job at a large, regional distribution center that's nearby. It's a notoriously tough job with a colossal turnover rate (some say around 98%). Nonetheless, it would pay very well, and he felt the money accumulated could get him to school faster. So he took it, being the only 18 year old in the entire area in which he worked. And he was there for six weeks before being let go.
Why was he let go? Because they told him, based on safety and security, to always report any incident, no matter how small. Turns out he scraped a pallet against a pillar in the middle of the warehouse. He didn't think it was a big deal. He discovered it was. I consoled him, and told him I was proud of him for being willing to work hard and try for the most he could, but also told him next time when someone says 'report anything', he'll know they mean 'anything', no matter how trivial. So to help him get over things, my second boy switched with him and he came with me to the game.
The rest of the week was usual, with everyone going their way. But then came the weekend and it was off on our mid-Ohio excursion. After a slow start, we left on Saturday to drive through Amish Country, and stop by a town called Coshocton, where a 19th Century village is there, complete with shops, living history and canal boat rides (in which we indulged).
The next day we did an unusual thing, but given work schedules, it was our only hope. We took our youngest back to the Ohio Renaissance Festival on a Sunday. We first went there when our eighteen year old was only a few months old. We've gone back a few times over the years. My boys decided they wanted to see The Swordsmen before they retire (likely coming soon), and just spend time with their youngest they way they used to hang out when we went all those years ago.
So all in all, a great time. Pictures to come soon - as soon as I sort through them for optimum bragging and memories. But that's been our focus, rather than the madness and crazy that we're seeing in the world. It makes you wonder, in ages past, what the average schmuck was doing when all of the big events happened. What was the Bavarian clock maker doing when the Nazis took over? What was the young newlywed couple doing in the Russian countryside when the Bolsheviks took over? Were they just going about their business? Yeah. Probably.
One book I like to peruse in October owing to the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings is David Horwarth's 1066: The Year of Conquest. He does a wonderful job laying out the day-to-day living that Saxon English were engaged in on the first of January that year. He then contrasts it with the fact that, by the end of the year, they were a subject people, their king dead, their armies broken, and now watching their lands ravaged by an invader and conqueror.
I wonder what people will think of years from now when they look back at this time. Will they know that when we stood on the twilight of our own civilization, an Ohio family took time to indulge in the simple things? Eh. Anyway, will post pictures soon.