Rites of Passage in Deer Creek State Park

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We recently took a three day trip to Dear Creek State Park. It is a really nice forested area just south of Columbus, Ohio. Dad paid for the adventure and accompanied Crystal, Lisa (our twenty-three year old) and me along with Liz, Brad and the four grandkids. Liz and Brad had to get back to work after a day and a half. They took the younger kids with them. The next day we decided to rent a motorized pontoon boat to explore the lake. We had a great time. From the shore, you really couldn’t get the full picture of how big and beautiful the lake was. We went from one end to the other. With a couple of stops, the whole trip took a little over an hour.

At one point, when we were in the middle of the lake, I had Keylan (14) and Jazymin (12) each take their turn at the helm. I knew this would be a new experience for them. Keylan had never even been on a boat larger than a row boat and neither had piloted a craft of any kind. While it was only for a couple minutes, it was, proudly, one of the first things included in their report to their parents later that evening.

All of this made me think about the many firsts we had with their mother and her sisters as they grew. Then I started thinking about my own experiences as I grew. As a parent or grandparent, these firsts seem like a simple part of growing up, but to the child,  they are a rite of passage. It is a sign that someone, who you respect, trusts you and acknowledges that you are growing up. To us adults, at some point, we don’t need or want any more acknowledgements. Getting older, and having more responsibility, gets to be less fun at some point. But to the young, my advice is: just enjoy it. The memories will last a lifetime and will help you empathize with those younger as you grow “more experienced”.

Upon reflection, my first job was, and I can’t believe dad talked mom into it, was helping take down a local carnival. I was fourteen. Don’t tell dad. I had to lie about my age. I spent the whole night working with tools, under the supervision of the regular workers, taking down a Farris wheel and a roller coaster in the mall parking lot. Before this experience, I had never even stayed up all night. I remember, when the work was done, I went into the grocery store and got a quart of chocolate milt. I downed it in about thirty seconds. Nothing ever tasted so good or well deserved.

When I was sixteen, like most kids, I learned to drive. However, I hadn’t been paying attention when they explained that we were supposed to practice before taking the lessons after school. The other two students didn’t seem to have much trouble with their lesson, so I thought no big deal. We were parked on the side street behind the school when my turn finally arrived. I got behind the wheel, adjusted my mirror as instructed. Then the instructor told me to put the car in drive and step gently on the gas. Well that car was a Ford Mustang with a V-8. As I felt for the gas, the wheel started spinning and screeching like I was in a police show chase scene. The instructor grabbed the wheel and stepped on his break. After my explanation that I had never felt the gas pedal before that day and a five minute lecture, we tried again. I did substantially better.

Warning: Crystal Don’t Read Beyond This Point…Kidding

Then there was the first real kiss. I was eighteen and had just taken a girl from school, Debbie, on an all day ski trip. I took the whole day to teach her. Half of the day we spent on the bunny hill, the other half on the intermediate slopes. Like a gentleman, I drove her right to her front door expecting her to get out. Instead, she turned to me and said ‘thanks for today.’ Then she leaned toward me for a kiss. I wasn’t a kissing virgin so I kissed back. All of a sudden, and to my amazement, there was a second tongue in my mouth. Then she started doing this thing with her tongue. Again, I had never paid attention when the other kids talked about stuff like that. Debra, if you are reading this, I don’t know if I told you at the time. You are so very, very, welcome!

videos of dads 2014 108

Here’s proof of Keylan driving the motor boat. Note the less than terrified passengers (dad, Crystal, Jazymin, and Lisa).


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