I took my nearly 18-year-old son to school for the last time today. He graduates high school next month, bound for college next school year. For the next 5 weeks he is involved in what they call "senior initiative," which I suppose, depending on your point of view and the student's actual initiative, can boil down to a giant waste of time or a wonderful opportunity to learn something new at your own pace and your curiosity.
I'm hoping - actually I'm fairly confident - my son will experience it as a wonderful opportunity.
But that's not what I'm thinking about tonight. Instead, I'm thinking about all the other drop-offs I've taken him to at school in the past 15 years (including pre-school). I did a rough calculation while at the gym today - which is to say I really can't know for sure - but I figure I've taken him to school at least 2,000 times. That accounts for times I was out of town or unavailable, and the times where he insisted on exercising his rites of passage by taking the bus.
Working the night shift all these years, getting home long after he's gone to bed, means that the mornings are especially meaningful. We hear all sorts of blather about "quality time" with your kids, but the truth is it's all about quantity time with your children. And for me, for better or worse, mornings are my time with them. So taking them to school, for me, is huge.
After I dropped him off this morning, I thought back to all the other times I've done it. Walking him to pre-school classes and him not wanting me to leave. Escorting him into kindergarten and lower school. Dropping him on the corner as he got older - "Daaaaad?. Please?. Drop me here, not in front of the school. I'm a big boy." And then as he matured, him understanding that our time together in the mornings was important and meaningful. As a senior this school year, he's let me drop him close to school. I could see the bubble over his head: So what if my dad drives me to school? He was mature enough to know that what anyone else thinks isn't as important as what he feels.
And I love him even more for that.
So today, I did it with my son for the last time.
It's profound. And I'm feeling it. My personal scorecard for taking kids to school: Two children down, one more to go, for the next 14 years. The mornings will remain a special time.
That's my back story as we prepare our 11 o'clock newscast tonight.
We'll have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, Rob Power with the night's sports, and our entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon's behind-the-scenes profile of the cast of "Scandal," including a candid interview with the star, Kerry Washington.
I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.
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