This past weekend we welcomed more than 700 students to George Fox University for the fall of 2013. On Thursday evening several of us host a session with parents where we talk about their hopes and dreams and how George Fox can partner with them in achieving the goals of their student. It is never easy to leave a child at college. Although Tara is our third child (and we have done this before!) it proved to be just as hard to leave her as it was for Jacob and Rebekah.
When Ruth and I were married almost 34 years ago we had dreams of careers, family and children (yes, I was born before Google, the three-point line and the Internet). In our wedding ceremony we chose the song from Fiddler on the Roof to symbolize how quickly time passes. You may remember Tevye and Goldie singing the song we know as “Sunrise, Sunset” –
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty
When did he grow to be so tall
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Even though I heard those words I never really imagined what it would feel like to be Tevye or Ruth to be Golde. We had yet to have children or to raise a family; it was all in the future. Now, Ruth and I find ourselves in the position of the parents who are sending children to college. Our Jacob just graduated from George Fox, our second child, Rebekah, is a junior and RA at George Fox, and Tara joins the community of George Fox this year. It does seem like yesterday that they were small.
At a meal we were listening to a story told by Linda Samek, one of our very fine deans, who was talking about a tradition they created in their family. When one of the children got ready to go to college they encouraged them to choose a special place to visit or experience with one of the parents as both a symbol of the relationship and also a recognition that the relationship was changing. We adopted Linda’s practice as our own and Ruth encouraged me to be the one that took the kids.
In Jacob’s case we went to Washington D.C. and saw Chelsea play A.C. Milan in soccer and then toured Washington sites and the battlefields of the Civil War. Rebekah does not like history much so I knew that she would not choose battlefield tours or a visit to famous libraries. It was her trip and she had to choose something she wanted to do, but interestingly she also wanted to do something I would enjoy. She wanted to go to Hawaii, and in order to enlist my support she asked me to run a race with her on Oahu. She knows I love running, and what could be better than a run in paradise! So we spent a week on the beaches and finished with a run actually on the Marine base – quite a story.
Tara, well, she loves Disneyland.
Last May we flew to John Wayne Airport and hurried to the Grand Californian on the Disneyland property. She chose the hotel carefully because it had its own private entrance into California adventure and would always give us an advantage as we jockeyed to be the first riders on Cars! One of the things I learned on the trip is that Tara not only likes the “rides” she loves the characters. We spent lots of time running around in Disneyland hunting for, getting autographs of and taking pictures with characters. Of course, being a young woman, she prioritized romantic characters. I found it quite interesting being one of the only males dining with Ariel and friends, for example. In the end, it was great.
I learned a lot on the trip. Tara is funny and engaging. She loves fantasy and story. She will stand in a very long line to see the right person (I will not). She can ride a roller-coaster far more times in a row than me (after three straight rides on California Screamin’ I could barely walk off the ride.)
Tara has been in our home for 18 years. The Lord has made her unique and special. Like all parents sending their children off to college this year (and every year), we have dreams and hopes for them. What my daughter reminded me of one summer day in California is that knowledge is important but relationships are primary. Fathers win when they get to know their daughters and sons just a little better and share in their hopes and dreams.
It is our hope that Tara will find college professors and staff who will want to know her and have as their heart’s desire to help her find God’s special role in the world that only she can fill. I am sure we share with GFU parents that sincere desire to have our kids “be known.”