This is my little brother Max.
He got kicked in the eye by a cow as he was helping birth her calf by manipulating her twisted uterus with the weight of his body. The vet who was assisting accidentally let go of the (drink) cow's leg and she pegged Max square in the eye. If you had trouble visualizing that, you're not alone. He sent me an email titled "Twisted Uterus with a Twist" descriptively detailing the incident - another legend to add to my collection of farm stories courtesy of my brother.
How we came from the same DNA, I have no idea. It's an excellent example of how my parents coached each of their children's strengths resulting in four very different outcomes. There is one commonality though - we are all happy and self sufficient - the two goals I think most parents ultimately want for their kids. It's not always possible to get there, though, without the right encouragement. Had my parents forced Max to attend college, stay close (drink) to home, and get a job with a steady pay check, he might be able to pay the bills, but happiness would not be part of that equation. Instead, they not only permitted, but suggested he travel after high school - "pick avocados and work at hostels along the way to pay for your next plane ticket," they advised, "see what you discover about yourself." About a year later, Max met a girl from New Zealand during his travels and announced his engagement. What the...? What do you do as a parent when your eighteen year old son calls with this announcement? In the end, they realized they had two choices - they could forbid the marriage and attempt to prevent it from happening hoping Max would see it their way and give it more time. Or, they (drink) could catch the next flight out there and support what they knew, deep down, was a final decision. They chose the latter. Almost twenty years later, they're still married, own their own farm, and have two beautiful children.
Why am I sharing this random slice of life about my brother halfway across the world? Because school starts in two days. Full time, in person school. For all five kids. I'm not one to lose sleep over the first day of school. I'm not one to cry on the first day of kindergarten. Sure it's a milestone and the beginning of officially growing up and not needing mom and dad so much. There's a bit of a heavy heart that comes with that. But tears? Not my jam. I'm more happy than sad and I don't mean that in a 'I'm finally free!' kind of way (though there's certainly an element of freedom contributing to my happiness). What I mean is that I'm happy FOR them. They're off - launched - as my dad would say. And it's an important milestone - one in a long line of milestones I'm excited to embrace with them.
I'm a big believer in encouraging kids to live their life and that starts long before high school graduation when they make a very pivotal decision about their future. It starts before the first day of kindergarten even. It starts by letting them fall when they start to walk. It starts with enduring seemingly never-ending stretches of tears as they learn how to get to sleep on their own. It means not rushing to their side if they skin their knee and saying no to the matchbox toy we all know will find its way forgotten, under the couch within hours of bringing it home. It means allowing disappointment to happen and celebrating when that disappointment turns into unexpected triumphs. And it means (drink) watching them walk into school on the first day of kindergarten, all masked up, clutching their Covid survival kit filled with hand sanitizer and back up masks, and trusting that this is going to be a great day for them.
Good things happen when you allow your kid's story to unfold like it should, free of fear and guilt. Of course thoughts of some kid bullying them and visions of them crying in a corner because they miss me (drink) haunt my brain from time to time. No one said launching your kids is easy. But good things are on the horizon, despite the stigma 2020 has carried. There's a sign outside the middle school that reads, "Accept, adapt, achieve." Let's do this.