Today is the last day I have a child in preschool. Today is the last day of kindergarten for my middle son. Today is the last day of fourth grade for my oldest son. There, I said it. No tears…yet. In the last two weeks, I’ve attended a preschool graduation (complete with cap and gown), a kindergarten graduation, and watched my oldest son prepare for his last year of elementary school. Through it all, I’ve observed some of the most caring teachers I’ve ever encountered; people that really care about their craft and have genuine care and love for my children. I’ve also observed three pretty awesome kids hitting pretty major milestones in their life.
In the spirit of honesty, I’m completely ready to freeze time and just let them live at this age for as long as they (I’d) like. They play, laugh, argue, fight, hug, and love like the sweet little boys that they are and I just want a little more time at their current stage in life. Their excitement about moving to a new grade, new school, and a new part of life is in one moment contagious and in the next terrifying for their mother and I. Like all parents, we try to enjoy this time in their life while trying to actually achieve a full eight hours of sleep at some point. They’re only little once and we want to soak it all in.
But, with a full summer of vacations, swimming, baseball games, monster trucks, dirt track races, and whatever else we dream up, right on the horizon, I’m doing my best to cherish each moment while I have it. It won’t last forever.
Each season in minor league hockey mirrors this same life experience. We take in the lows and the highs of the season; riding the crazy roller coaster from October to June (hopefully) each year. We enjoy the moments we have with each player, all the while hoping they will “graduate” to the next level but wishing they’d stay with us just a little bit longer. We have watched these young men grow up before our eyes as professional athletes and as men. Like my sons, the players are laser focused on the next step in their life, while working hard in the present.
As the season ends, we reminisce about the memorable moments of the past season and we take wild guesses about where each player will end up next season. We piece together our dream roster for next year and continually refresh our Twitter to see if we get any breaking news on player movement. In part of the beauty of minor league sports, fans have the opportunity to develop relationships with the players and in a lot of cases they become part of family gatherings, holidays, and memories. For some families, an adopted son is gained through this beautiful game of hockey and it’s hard to let them go each spring. But, just like I’m doing with my three little boys, take a deep breath, step back, and let them grow.
Simply, soak it all in.
Is it October yet?