June 13, 2001

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


Father's Day is one of those holidays that really doesn't rank up very high on the list of fun holidays. Kids don't like it because it is one of the few holidays where they don't get anything. No chocolate eggs, no stockings stuffed with toys, no birthday presents, no nothing! Only more chores since Dad is excused from work for the day.

The type of presents that one can get as a Dad on Father's Day is rather limited. It is usually a tie or tools that you would rather not own. All the good stuff is too expensive for a child to afford. So us Father's end up with drawers full of "I love Father" socks, ties that don't match anything, or tools that only lead to more expected home improvement projects.

I am lucky in that I have proved myself to be extremely limited when it comes to using tools. After years of hard training I have my daughters giving me what really is a great present: chocolate. Chocolate in any form never clashes with my wardrobe and never clutters up my sock drawer.

However, now that my children are approaching adulthood I am enjoying the last few good father's days that I have left. We have our children in our homes for so short a time. It seems they were still in grade school just yesterday and now my oldest is off to college this Fall. Father's Day without children living at home just doesn't seem like a real holiday.

I have always enjoyed the hand-made Father's Day cards that my children have made for me. First there were the cards made with pencil and crayon. Then as they got older the cards were made on their computers. Of course, us Dad's don't get the full treatment that Mom's do. They have the advantage of getting gifts from their children with the guidance and help of their grade school teacher. It is a big advantage to Mother's Day to be in a month where school is still in session. That is why Mom gets a marigold in a Dixie cup.

I will miss my three girls when they are all off to college. The two younger ones still have 2 and 3 years left of high school. It is amazing how busy those high school years are. Even the summer time is busy for them. Their lives will be busy in college as well, but much of that we will miss as parents since they will be going away to college.

I think you can tell I am already suffering an early form of "empty nest" syndrome and I still have them home for the summer! Come September when Alexa goes off to UWS I will probably be a basket case.

I have enjoyed being a Dad. I have loved seeing my three girls grow up. They were a joy when they were in diapers and they are a joy in their teen years as well. It has been very rewarding to give them so many opportunities. Music has been an important part of our family. I am especially proud of Alexa's hard work this last year in music.

How could a father not be proud after watching his daughter conduct the high school band at the Spring Pops Concert? I was also proud of her organizing enough band students to play the National Anthems before the school board meeting in May. She did it because she wanted the school board to hear what the band sounded like. Most of the board members and administration had never been to one of Mr. Lhotka's formal concerts. I thought it took courage on my daughter's part to organize this and conduct the band volunteers at a difficult time and that is when I realized she was no longer a child. Yes, I was very proud of her.

I admire my oldest daughter's discipline. Most Seniors get senioritis the last quarter of school and let their grades slide. I was proud of the fact that Alexa participated in 4 Spring concerts. She played French horn in the High School Spring Concert, the Mesabi Community College Band Concert, and the University of Wisconsin/Superior Spring Concert. For the fourth concert she played viola in the Mesabi Community College Orchestra Concert, all while maintaining an A average in all her high school and college courses.

I look at her Senior accomplishments and my own accomplishments at that age and wonder how much more she has done. Her future band professor has already announced to Alexa that she will be the French horn second chair in the University Symphonic Band for next year.

Yes, I am finding out some of the best Father's Day gifts come all year long and are far better than any chocolate. I am very proud of my first born and wish her more success as she prepares for going off to college. I am thankful for the few years I have left with my other two great gems that are my daughters.

Children truly are a gift and a blessing. Despite the heartache that happens when things go wrong - be it sickness or one of those childhood mishaps that tests a parent's patience. I am glad I have had the task of raising children and I hope I have lived up to this task. Like all parents it is hard to balance family and work. One makes the other possible and the other makes work an act of love.

I am thankful that I am a Father. It is one of life's greatest tasks, but one that makes life so meaningful and fresh. I don't know if I gave those feelings to my Father, but I hope so. My one regret is that time has gone by so quickly.


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