This commentary is by Brian Ricca, the school superintendent in St. Johnsbury.
Part of the reality of being an AAU basketball family is that we spend some weekends on the road, away from home, attending out-of-state tournaments. It’s a chance to leave the Green Mountain State for a couple of days and experience hotel life,
The weekend of March 25-27, outside of Portland, Maine, we had a moment with another family on the hotel elevator that really stayed with me.
Our oldest son and I were getting on the elevator, and we were joined by a family of four: parents and two children. They were clearly going to the pool and had all the equipment they needed with them. The young boy had a small kickboard, which he was using (not surprisingly) to bang on anyone and anything within reach.
Much to my own child’s chagrin, and dismay, I was chatting with the parents as the elevator descended to the lobby. During the course of the conversation, the kickboard interrupted what we were saying, and the mother apologized to me. To which I responded, “Please don’t apologize. I’ve been there. This guy (pointing to my son) and his brother were the same way.”
As my own child rolled his eyes, the young boy went back to whacking the side of the elevator.
And when the elevator doors opened, the two children sprang out and ran off to the pool, with their parents trailing behind them.
Watching them go, there was a pang in my heart. I thought of all the moments on vacation we had when Our Boys were younger, and we were the family that apologized for the ruckus. I could picture them with their floaties, goggles, noodles and kickboards, disrupting elevator moments for complete strangers we would never see again.
We would get to the pool, and their shrieks would echo in the enclosed hotel space. Splashing, jumping, and playing for hours. Whacking each other, the water, and anything they could get their pool toys on. Until it was time to go back up to the room, dripping wet but full of the joy of life in a hotel pool.
And as I watched that family disappear, I turned to look at the young man left on the elevator with me. I was immediately filled with pride. Our Patrick is almost as tall as I am, having earned a spot on the varsity basketball team this year as a freshman in high school, learning and struggling valiantly with the realities and inequalities of our world in 2022. While part of my heart ached for those moments of years past, I was also anxious for the anticipation of his next life chapters.
For me, parenting is essentially a constant state of learning. While there are stages, more often that not, when we think we’ve mastered a stage, there’s a variable, or the next stage appears. I remember those early years well, and sometimes long for what I think is their ease. But I also know every stage has its challenges, which we rarely remember as fondly as the moments that were wonderful and mark those years in our hearts indelibly.
It’s bittersweet for sure to watch Patrick and Brendan grow as they yearn for more and more independence. And as I trailed behind Patrick briefly while we walked to the car to drive to his basketball games, I lamented the all-too-swift passage of time. Only to promise myself to hold on to the moments, be more present, and treasure our time together.
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