I’ve always been moved by the chirrup of katydids. Early morning, rising and falling, it’s always said two things to me: Summer is here and summer is ending. That twining of sadness and joy is exquisitely, uniquely painful; not unlike parenting.
There’re just a few hours to go before we head off for a road trip to Nashville from New York. Our daughter Emma is due to check into her dorm room at Vanderbilt on Saturday; her classes a week or so later; and the rest of her life just after that.
It’s hard to describe the combination of intense pride, joy and sadness all rolled into the act of packing your kid’s belongings and sending them off to the next phase of their life. Harder, too, to do justice to the unique and exquisite power, joy, and brilliance of Emma.
I’m flooded with memories of her clinging to me as a baby, dancing with glee as she sings out the name of her older brother Sam, and the eye-rolling that’s been a part of life since middle-school as she watched her goofy dad be his goofy self. (“Dad, you are NOT going to cry again, are you?”).
Emma is the kid who speaks her mind, who stands up against injustice, who argues for what is right, who works harder and with more determination than nearly anyone I’ve ever known. As the katydids sing, I wish you could know her.
I know she’ll do well however this next phase of her life unfolds. (And honestly, I’m more worried about how Vandy is going to handle Emma then how Emma is going to handle Vandy.) But still, she’s my little girl. And I still feel her entire hand wrapped tightly around my pinky. I hope I never lose that memory.
When I was a boy, I read a Dick and Jane story about katydids. In her guilt over some silly mistake, Sally, Dick and Jane’s little sister, was convinced that the katydids were actually saying, “Sally did it.”
Silly Sally; I always knew better. Even then I knew the katydids couldn’t care less about our stealing some cookies. They celebrate and mourn the passing of time.
PS…I once promised my kids that I’d stop making them the subjects of my blog posts. Sorry Em, I couldn’t help myself.