Friday, May 25, 2012

The Last Field Trip

Did you ever have a tiger laugh at you or a chimp mock you? That is how I felt last week, as I went through the Manhattan Zoo. I think the animals were glad they were safely behind the glass and enclosures rather than out in the open with the dangerous animals like I was. This week I went with my daughter on her last field trip of her elementary school career. We had a little rain a couple of days earlier that made the decision a little more guilt free but the reality was that we had plenty of things that could be done. However, I decided I wanted to soak up one last field trip as a parent.
Why the sudden interest in field trips? Every once in a while I get a jolt that reminds me of what is important. What was that trigger? Maybe it was the events of the week or all the graduation announcements and wedding invitations we received in the mail. In any case, it was a reminder that nothing ever stays the same and that we need to cherish the time we have right now.
It seems like just last week we were packing a diaper bag and loading car seats into the car. Only yesterday I was coaching t-ball and helping the kids with their bucket calves. Suddenly my oldest is a licensed driver and my youngest is done with field trips. I can only imagine how fast the next few years will go, and I don’t want to miss anything. Soon I will be the one mailing out graduation announcements and wedding invitations.
When my children were born I promised them and I promised myself that I wouldn’t let life make me miss their events. Well, it was a nice thought, but probably not very realistic. Being an adult involves tough decisions and the reality that you can’t be everywhere or do everything. The kids understand that Dad is a farmer and that there are times I just cannot attend their events no matter how bad I might want to.
Crops need planted, cows need calved and hay needs baled at a certain time and those deadlines are not flexible. However, there are a lot of things that do allow me the flexibility to attend games, recitals, school programs and, up until last week, field trips. Too often we fall into the trap of being “too busy” when often the things we are too busy for will wait until later.
Often I find myself feeling comfortable with my life.  I trick myself into thinking my children will remain the same age and the people in my life will always be around. I fall into the trap that the “here and now” will be the “here forever”. The fact of the matter, is that the time we are living in right now will be past us in a blink of an eye. Nothing is constant in this life, except for change.
Times like this make me realize how lucky I am. Oh sure I whine about being busy and complain about how hectic it all is. But in the final analysis, I am so lucky to be involved in a family business where I work with my family every day, a business where I have freedom to make my own decisions. I am lucky to live in a community where we all care for each other, know our neighbors and have the opportunity to spend time with my kids and their friends.
I have talked to my friends who have older kids and I know this time will be gone in a flash and the extra time will leave me wondering how the years went by so fast. I also know that life can change in a flash, and I don’t want to regret anything I might not have done. Every day, every event and every moment is a blessing and one that we need to stop and enjoy. I am sorry if this column is too sappy, but once in a while we need to be reminded who good our life is, how fast it flies by and how lucky we are for each day.
The afore mentioned events and notices of last week made me realize that we need to take advantage of each day we are given. Even if that day includes driving three loud, foul-smelling boys home from baseball practice with the radio blaring. We need to go on field trips with three rowdy girls who insist on screaming and running through the zoo, disturbing the peace of the residents. So Mr. Tiger laugh all you want to, mock me if you want Ms. Chimp, I will take my chances with the dangerous animals on the outside of the glass. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.

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