The Wings to Fly

Giving our children roots and wings isn't easy.

- Posted on Oct 14, 2010

A wise son maketh a glad father. . . . —PROVERBS 10:1

A friend of mine claims that it's the job of a parent to give a child both roots and wings. Well, when Timothy went off to college and Carol and I no longer had any boys at home, I was worried that maybe we'd overdone it in the wings department.

I mean, for the first week Tim didn't even call, and after that we'd get only nuggets: He loved his classes, he had great friends, he was playing Frisbee on the lawn and working hard. But in my empty-nest stage, I kept wondering: Didn't he miss us even a little? Didn't he miss our fall rituals, like shopping for apples at the green market, going to a Columbia football game, carving a jack-o'-lantern, planting the spring bulbs? Every November we'd put in tulip bulbs and daffodils and crocuses. Now I'd have to do it on my own.

“I'm glad Tim's happy,” I'd say in my prayers, “but fall feels empty without him.”

Then one day I came home from work and Carol said, “There's a package for you on the dining room table.” A sizable cardboard box from some unknown address, it smelled faintly of damp earth. I opened it. On top were an order form and a card. “Happy Father's Day a little late,” it said. “Love, Tim.” There in the box were bulbs—spring bulbs to plant in the autumn.

“What a great present, Tim,” I told him on the phone. “I'm glad you didn't forget.”

“Sure, Dad,” he said. Wings and roots: It takes both.

May my children remember where they're from as they spread their wings and fly.

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