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Sunday, February 1, 2004

My Kids Make My Heart Sing

Hi Friends:

My kids are a constant source of joy to me. How they tangle up my heart and take my breath away. And I'm not talking about when they want me to be a human slingshot at Six Flags! I'm talking about the times when they're knit into your very being and yet no matter how tightly bound to us we want to keep them, they unravel your heartstrings at the most unexpected moments. For a parent recognizing your children are actually growing up is a startling realization that makes you wonder...will you be able to grow without them?

For instance this winter, the kids and I were in Dallas, where we celebrated my birthday, and it was time for them to go home to their mother, Linda. I had to stay in Dallas and the kids were going to be flying on a one-hour flight – by themselves -- for the very first time.

I was concerned about the very idea of them being on a flight without me. Alexander evidently grasped that concept because he was like, "I don't know Dad, we always fly with you." Now Alexander is at the age where he may be still seeking security from me, or he may just know how to make me feel better. However, Natasha appears not to have those same qualms. She nonchalantly explained to us that it was no problem and rather exciting. I hope that she hasn't started thinking about pilots, just liking the feel of independence.

Everything seems to be going well, we get to the airport, and we're waiting for them to board. We're filling out the paperwork, getting their kid tags, and going over things with the escort. I give them money and tell them to call their mother or me if they need anything. They immediately decide they need to visit the gift shop. I'm thinking that spending the money on gum and candies will make the anxiety of separation easier on them, so I decide not to interfere with their selection. Just as they get back, the flight attendant comes to take them away...she was very efficient and matter of fact...like this is something that happens every day!!!! Without a smile she said, "You two follow me". It made me wonder if my kids were really flying the friendly skies today. Natasha and Alexander start to walk away...

...And I don't know what I feel...I'm watching them walk down the ramp and they're going further away...and I'm just hoping, like in a song, that they'll turn around and look at me...maybe they did but they were blocked by the goose-stepping body of the flight attendant. I'm standing there, thinking about it, my mind says they're growing up but I'm paralyzed with the thought. As I'm choking up, I call Linda...for a few seconds I cannot speak...finally, I tell her, "They're growing up." She says, "You're going to make me cry".

With tears in my eyes, I'm still standing there as the plane takes off and the manager comes to me with an envelope that has "Dad" written on it in a child's large handwriting. The manager said, "This will make you dry your eyes". I said, "Its too late for that". I open the envelope and it says, "Happy Birthday Dad, You're The Greatest" – Natasha and Alexander.

To my pleasant surprise, what they were buying in the gift shop was a greeting card to help ME with my anxiety. My heartstrings were playing a beautiful song at that moment.

Here's to your life being blessed with Love and Laughter!


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