Life is full of big moments…the monumental, milestone-level moments, and the more poignant ones that maybe fly slightly below the radar.

    Life is full of big moments…the monumental, milestone-level moments, and the  more poignant ones that maybe fly slightly below the radar.

    How often those moments occur in your life and how high you crank the volume when they occur likely depends on your makeup as a person. If you’re low-key and can be relied on to downplay everything, your big moments are going to be quieter. If you’re more dramatic by nature and are known to firmly plant your heart on your sleeve during every waking moment, your life might seem like mostly a series of transitions between countless OMG! moments.

    We’re in the midst of a big moment in our family. One could argue the “moment” itself actually commenced last fall, when our oldest son began his senior year of high school, and it has continued in the ensuing months on a plane peppered with peaks, valleys, ebbs and flows. Since last fall, many big moments have occurred as our oldest son has embarked on this once-in-a-lifetime school year, but with spring’s arrival, the moment-meter, so to speak, is flashing red and its alarm is shrieking.

    Unlike his mom, dad, and younger brother, our oldest son’s heart is firmly encapsulated in his chest, protected by his inner armor. It is rarely, if ever spotted anywhere near his sleeve. If he ever feels a sentimental, touchy-feeling reaction coming on, he’s adept at repressing it and coming across as Joe Cool, calm and collected.

    That’s how he’s rolled with this whole “senior year” thing and this whole “closing a huge chapter in your life” thing and “about to embark on another chapter” thing that his parents and his friends’ parents have been so caught up in since last September.

    Captain of the football team…no big deal. He just wanted to win some games, smash the hell out of some people and, hopefully, not get hurt and miss any action during his favorite sport that followed in the winter, hockey. He was captain of that team, too. No big deal. He just wanted to make memories with his best friends that he’s skated with since kindergarten, smash the hell out of some people, and try to win a section title. Spring has brought golf, and he’s been surpassed on the depth chart by his sophomore sibling with his syrupy swing, and our oldest son has demonstrated nothing but class in understanding the reality that his little brother is playing better than him right now. If it’s killing him on the inside, he refuses to let even an inkling of dejection or bitterness show on the outside.

    We’re in the middle of graduation reception season. More big moments. Our reliably understated oldest son fired a pre-emptive shot across the bow as we were still enduring the dog days of winter when he announced that he didn’t want his graduation reception to resemble some over-the-top shrine in worship of all things him. We told him we’d gladly oblige his request, and that his reception, to be held at our house, would be a celebration of him, to be sure, but would also double as a casual get-together with a relaxed vibe. He was fine with that.

    Then, the cool, calm and collected kid started getting a bit nervous as he saw what his friends’ parents were planning for their kids’ grad receptions…so elaborate and impressive. His observations led him to surprise us and perhaps even himself when he asked us recently if people coming to his reception would even know when they walk in that the event is for him, and not just “some party.” Without a doubt, people will know it’s his party, we assured him.

   We’ve observed some subtle attitude changes in our oldest son as this chapter in his life’s book has neared its conclusion. To sum it up, this kid is ready and eager to be a college student in a bigger city around four hours from his life’s home up to this point.

   Still, as his graduation reception has grown closer, maybe this go-with-the-flow, even aloof kid has permitted himself to betray his perceived self if only a little bit, as he’s become more involved in planning his event and as he peppers us with questions about how it’s going to shake out. He’s confirming menu details...choosing photos while rejecting others...putting a song playlist together...constantly checking the ominous weather forecast. We’ve concluded that just maybe, the gargantuan reality of this particular big moment is slowly penetrating his consistently impenetrable shell. It’s hitting him. This is it. Maybe all the evidence we need is seeing him with his newfound best friend, his younger brother. They’re inseparable. The countdown clock is ticking and its TICK-TOCK is suddenly deafening. They play catch with the baseball in the yard almost every night. Time is suddenly precious, and these are precious times.

    I don’t recall ever identifying by name either of our sons or my wife in any of my columns. It’s a small newspaper in a small town, so most know who they are anyway, but I’ve always figured if I keep their names out of my ramblings, they’ll retain some privacy and a bit of anonymity. I never want to embarrass the people I love most, after all.

    He’s Ethan, by the way, if by chance you didn’t know. Great kid...