Katydids and kids.

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.

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  • http://www.bijansabet.com bijan

    my oldest daughter is 11. i’m planning on reading this when she heads off to college.

    thanks for sharing this.

    • jerrycolonna

      You’re welcome Bijan.

  • http://ordr.in/ David Bloom

    My daughter is 15 months, still in the pinky holding phase. I look at her and wish I could stop time. Can’t imagine when chasing her around the couch won’t be a daily pleasure. But reading this I see the pleasures change but don’t go away. Thanks for the great post, and best of luck to you and Emma.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks David. I shared your comment with Emma and we were both moved. Hold that little one tightly. It’s cliche because it’s true–it moves like a flash.

      • http://ordr.in/ David Bloom

        I have the poem Father’s Song, by Gregory Orr, taped to my monitor:

        Yesterday, against admonishment,
        my daughter balanced on the couch back,
        fell and cut her mouth.

        Because I saw it happen I knew
        she was not hurt, and yet
        a child’s blood so red
        it stops a father’s heart.

        My daughter cried her tears;
        I held some ice
        against her lip.
        That was the end of it.

        Round and round: bow and kiss.
        I try to teach her caution;
        she tries to teach me risk.

  • http://www.twitter.com/delamothe de la Mothe

    Thanks for sharing Jerry. I’m far from ready to see my little girl go! but you make me feel like it is all amazing anyways

    • jerrycolonna

      The whole parenting journey has just been astounding…heartbreaking at times and at others enlivening like nothing else.

  • panterosa,

    Making room for Emma as adult does not replace Emma as child, but expands the idea of Emma and the place she holds in you. It is in this way we grow with others, as they grow.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Panterosa. You’re right and it’s lovely to internalize that.

  • Jeff

    Beautifully expressed, you made me feel like I’m tearily leaving for Nashville! But, I’ve got two more years before my oldest reaches household emancipation. For what its worth, my 12 yr old still rubs my elbow, like she has since she’s been two. Enjoy the trip.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Jeff. It’s been a great trip. We just arrived and can see the campus from our hotel room. It’s been wonderful watching the transitions for Emma as she realizes she’s getting closer. The next two years will pass in an instant.

  • http://www.tereza.com/ Tereza
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