There are very few people in this county that knew me before we had a son. I can only think of three or four, tops, that I still see regularly that knew the Thompson family when it was just two of us.
But that changed 18 years ago today, when our son, Peter, was born.
A few months later, I started to work here at the LaGrange Standard-News, and it was not unusual to see me showing up at a school to get a photo, toting not only a camera bag and notepad, but a car carrier seat as well.
A while later, he would walk in with me, as he didn’t require me carrying him as often. In fact, in an independent streak that most parents will recognize, he’d prefer not to be carried. This desire to walk on his own was usually opposite of my desire to be in a hurry.
It wasn’t long before I was referred to, more often than not, as “Peter’s dad.” In fact, one of my earliest columns ran with that title and I quickly realized what a following this kid had. Scores of people came up to me after that article ran to tell me they liked it. What they liked, I soon figured out, was the stories I wrote about him growing up and, more to the point, how I was handling that.
I usually handled it with confusion, to be honest.
Within just a couple of years, I went from about as obscure as you could get to being recognized throughout the county, in part due to my stories about Peter.
Actually, he became recognized throughout the county. From the (old) county jail to the courthouse to the county office building, he was welcomed anywhere. I was welcomed, too, as long as he was with me.
Fast forward 18 years.
A lot has changed:
He’s taller than me (has been for a few years, now).
He’s faster than me (although I won’t tell him that).
He’s driving (this equals a batch of new grey hairs).
He has his own car. (Man. Another grey hair!)
He’s a senior (in high school, not “citizen”).
He can vote. (Note to self, get him registered to vote.)
And we’re looking at where he’ll be going to college a year from now. (Hair now goes white thanks to thinking about that bill.)
Often you’ll hear parents say how it’s all gone by in a blink of an eye. There is some truth to that. Looking ahead, 18 years seems to be a long ways away. I can’t envision what I’ll be doing in 18 years, or where I’ll be.
Looking back, 18 years ago seems very recent. All that time has scrunched up into memories of the highs and lows. (Fortunately, mostly highs.) I can look back and note specific events.
The age-old adage of “they were just starting school yesterday” seems clichéd, but at the same time, is so true. We’ve gone from First Day of School to Senior Year in that proverbial (and, yes, clichéd) blink of an eye.
There are, of course, other clichés that fit:
Time flies when we’re having fun. Because it has been fun. Even through most of the teenage years. Although, there were three or four days during year 15…
And while parenting is never easy all the time, I’ve always felt that it could have been worse. One thing about working at a paper is I often know just how much trouble some families can find themselves in. Sometimes it would appear to be bad parenting, while other times it seems like the kids may be running the asylum.
I can’t say it’s been trouble-free, but it’s been far from troubling.
“Grows like a weed” is also very apropos as he has done just that.
Like a lot of kids, boys especially it would seem, jeans that fit at the start of the school year barely reach the ankles by the end. Shoes have only gotten longer and longer.
Then there is the entire “you’re an adult now” thing. And that sort of worries me. Have we done everything we can up to this point? We feel confident that we have, but, to use that other cliché, the proof is in the pudding.
We’ve enjoyed the last 18 years a lot. Nearly everything we’ve done, we’ve done as a trio. Soon it will be back to two of us. And that will be in a lot less than 18 years.
And it will be quicker than that blink of an eye that the last 18 years took.