Family of Four

Last week the Kiecker family rented a canoe and headed out to Little Sag for the week.  Traveling from our dock on Round to Little Sag is no small day-trip.

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But they assured me that they were up for it–their boys regularly backpack  the Appalachian Trail, last year they averaged 10 miles a day. I knew Mom and Dad loved the challenge–they’d been on trips here in the past, and could put on the miles.   I knew that their healthy boys were certainly capable of it, but was it going to be any fun?   Did they really want to travel that far?  How hard were these little kids going to be pushed on this “vacation?”

Well, I happened to be down at the dock with my camera when they were loading up, and I happened to witness the conversation.  Todd was a really kind dad, patiently coaching his two boys as they entered the boat.  And although he was excited, and raring to go (a little contagious for me…so just imagine how his sons felt!)….he sat there and explained where the Missing Link portage was, and what they were going to do next.   And as they were paddling away, I could hear one of the boys asking  “Do you want me to paddle on this side, Dad, or on the other side?”….and Todd replied—“You go ahead and paddle on whichever side is comfortable, and Mom and I will adjust.”   Nice.  They had a great trip, they proudly made it back from Little Sag in a little over 7 hours, —and I’m going to venture that along with the fun, the guys got a healthy dose of actual self esteem and sense of belonging by accomplishing the trek as a family team.  Does it get any better than that?

Then…I got thinking about our family team….our family of four.   The thing is—Andy and I met on Seagull Lake, in a tandem canoe.  We were happy campers when we were first married….so we briefly wondered if we wanted to actually transition out of that two person canoe..and make room for any more.   Did we really want to invite two curly blond heads on our canoe trips?

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And then….well, it seemed like POOF, suddenly  we were a family of four.   We made room in our lives for two more.  We made  permanent room in our hearts..

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And, somewhere along the line…although we knew we were preparing them to grow up, and go into the world,  I started assuming that we would ALWAYS be a family of four.  We’d always find our way back to the dinner table where we like to linger and talk about the high points and low points….it was every day, it was years and years.

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When they’re this age…well, who expects it to ever be any different?
Last weekend, Shelby graduated from highschool.   She’s set her standards high, we’re really proud of who she’s become.  She’s working in the outfitting yard this summer, then heading to college next fall.

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She’s so ready to go, and we couldn’t be more pleased.  I always knew this day would come, but I never bothered to tell my heart about that. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way…in my head. Yet, in my heart, she’ll always be part of my ordinary days…and next fall, she’ll be missing.

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So, I felt a little wistful as I watched the nice Kiecker family paddle away together in their canoe.  They’re in the “this will last forever”stage.    I just have to scrunch up my head around the fact that this transition we’re in happens to every family eventually, it’s just ordinary.  Graduation is a celebration of course, but who expects the grief that comes with it?  Can my heart really imagine the big gap?   Inviting Shelby and Daniel into our canoe has turned out to be the most significant thing we’ll ever do in this life…..the best decision for sure…both my head and my heart can agree on that one.  And eventually, I supposed I’ll convince my heart it’s OK to let her go, and look forward to the times she’s back at the table, telling us of her current adventures, paddling her own canoe.