The bird has flown the coop

By Chuck Kajer

When a couple’s first child is born, life is full of possibilities. Parents typically work hard to teach the child to make the right decisions and wonder what the day will be like when the little bird flies from the nest.

For Jenny and me, that day came last week. Our oldest son, Josh, moved to Glendale Heights, IL, where he is scheduled to start classes next week at Universal Technical Institute. Josh is studying to be an auto/diesel technician and is starting a 17-month program at the school. He hopes to get accepted into one of the school’s specialty programs, which would mean another six months or more paid for by one of the auto manufacturers. His goal is to get into the BMW program. BMW technicians are well-compensated. If all goes according to plan, two years from now my son will be making more money than me.

We had taken a trailer full of furniture and other items down to Illinois earlier in July, and we still had a few things to take down…most notably, his motorcycle. That involved renting a ramp trailer and using enough straps and bungee cords to make sure the bike would stay up, no matter how bumpy the roads. Josh had left for Illinois on Thursday and we followed the next day, so we were in charge of strapping the bike. Somehow, the thing stayed up and wasn’t damaged. Josh laughed at how many straps we had used to keep the thing from falling, but I reminded him that it worked.

Anyway, driving home on Sunday, it seemed a little strange. This is the kid who sat in my lap and watched TV, the one who played Winnie the Pooh and Tigger games with me. It doesn’t seem that long ago.

I’ve spent countless hours taking him to hockey practices and games, driving him to his other activities. His mother and I would remind him to do his homework, drag him out of bed in the morning and call him late at night reminding him what time he needed to be home.

We always had that element of control over him. Sometimes he would act annoyed, and sometimes rightfully so. But I would like to think that somehow, deep down, he appreciated it. As we said goodbye Sunday afternoon, the temptation was there to remind him—for the 10th time—about a couple of things he needed to do. I started to say something, saw his eyes roll into the back of his head and cut myself off. And when he called me on Monday to check on something, I bit my tongue instead of reminding him about finding a job down there. I did ask him if he found anything, but didn’t force the issue. It’s hard to give up on the control a parent is used to, but somehow, we’re doing it.

The bird—a big bird—has flown out of the nest. But there are still two more at home. Andy walked by me in the kitchen the other day and I stopped him and stood next to him. I looked at him and said Ha! I’m the tallest one in the house again!

Andy looked at me, told me to take off my shoes and compare.

Turns out, I was wrong.

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