So my oldest child has flown the coop.
While hardly a kid anymore – he is 22 years old after all – he will always be a child because I was there when he was barely old enough to lay in a crib and wiggle.
I know many people who watched as their children spread their wings and took off, but to be perfectly honest, at the time, I really didn't understand what the big deal was.
I moved out when I was a young man, just like billions of other young people have done throughout the course of time.
As the papa bear, it was my job to raise my children to the point where they are able to move out on their own, then it was “Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.”
I know a papa bear might not be the best example of parenting in the wild because an adult male bear will attack any other male bear that comes in his territory, even his own child.
But considering male lions eat their young, I think I will with the bruin analogy.
I have never attacked my kids, nor threatened to eat them, so I guess I am doing OK.
Anyway, Junior reached an age where he wanted to take off on his own, to explore new worlds, to live in a different city than the one he was raised.
It was a day I had been thinking about for years, but when the day came I was not doing cartwheels across the lawn – mainly because I am way to old to be doing cartwheels across the lawn - but also because I was not that thrilled with Junior jumping from the nest.
What? What is this? What is this odd feeling I have? I did my job, I raised him as best I could and now I should be able to sit back, wave goodbye and get on with getting the other two out of the house.
But instead of seeing a young man spreading his wings, all I could see was the little boy who held so many grasshoppers in one hand their guts were squishing between his fingers.
Suddenly, the big, tough papa bear was feeling more like a hormonal tween.
During the eight-hour drive to his new city – I helped him move like any papa bear would – all I could think of was the days gone by and the moments a father shares with his young son.
Was I sad Junior was all grown up, something I had worked hard to help make happen?
I surprised even myself because I was.
That can't be right. I'm the big tough papa bear. It was the mama bear who was supposed to be sad little bear is leaving the clan. Papa bear is the one who was supposed to hold the door as Junior made an exit before doing a little dance because it was one down and two to go.
But there I was, the big tough papa bear feeling very melancholy about Junior leaving the cave.
I know it is how life works: you are born, you are a baby, then a kid, then a teen, then a young man and then you move out.
I was ready for it, prepared for it, at times I was almost longing for it so imagine my surprise when I was saddened by it.
With Junior gone there would be things like left overs in the fridge, gas in my car and finally a spare room where I could put my treadmill – yes I actually use the treadmill for more than collecting dust.
Hmm, perhaps there is some good to Junior flying the coop and striking out on his own. I just wonder if his flight will imitate that of a homing pigeon.
I guess we will have to wait and see.
Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh