The Christmas Break means that the family is together. This holiday season was especially significant because we were able to travel to Victoria to visit my mom and brother. Grandma Rai has been visiting us regularly each and every year and it was about time to go back to see her in Victoria. I think this is our first time back as a family to Victoria in seven years so we definitely were due for a visit. The kids love seeing Grandma because it means being spoiled and since it was Christmas everyone knew there was going to be lots of pampering.
This break was even more of a special occasion because my brother informed us just before we left for Victoria that he was going to get married on December 27th. Wow! Talk about a great surprise. Now we were going not just for Christmas, but also a wedding. The great thing about this was my mom was able to keep a secret for a few weeks. Mom usually finds it difficult to keep good news under wraps.
It was a great visit. The wedding was awesome. Christmas Day was great. The turducken meal was unbelievable. The visit with Grandma’s coffee buddies was fun. The kids visit with their cousin was a blast. It was just what was needed. Having the family all together was just what was needed. I know that Aidan, just home from Williston, loves the down time. The workload at Williston can be overwhelming for him and I know that just chilling out is welcomed. I also know that going back to school is tough as the trip to the airport is always quiet with Aidan. Not a happy guy to leave the comforts of home. Totally understandable.
It was a great holiday season. Over too fast as usual, but better than not being together at all as a family. I guess we need to just do more of it, and more often. As the kids get older and they start to chase their own dreams you never know how many more family holidays we will be spending together. Take whatever we can get.
Tristan signed his Letter of Intent to attend Lehigh University. It has been a long road to get to this point and this is just a point in time. The road never ends. More work ahead for him, Aidan and Dallyn. We are proud of Tristan and his brothers and hope they all find future success. We know there will be bumps along the way and we do hope we have provided them the guidance to handle both the highs and lows with class and humility.
Here is Tristan’s his say on all of of this.
“I am extremely excited to attend Lehigh University in 2015. I never thought I would be in the position that I am in today. It is a very humbling experience. I am very thankful and proud to be an alumni of both Vimy Ridge Academy and Westminster School. Without the experiences and lessons that I received at these schools I doubt I would be the same caliber of person that I am today. I owe a lot to these schools. I spent my junior high school years at Vimy Ridge, participating in both the hockey and lacrosse programs. The staff at Vimy do an amazing job at both sports and it was a very enjoyable experience being able to play both of the sports that I loved at the same school. Not only did I receive great instruction athletically but I was constantly challenged on the academic front as well. The teachers at Vimy did an amazing job helping me strive to better myself in various subjects. I am thankful to people such as Mrs. Kim Froese, who basically threw me into a Grade 9 math class when I was only in Grade 8, helping me every step of the way. Vimy Ridge challenged me to branch out and find a way to become more.
I owe a lot to Vimy Ridge Academy and everyone who had a part in my experience. I left Vimy after my Grade 9 year to attend Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut. I had a hard time adjusting to the culture shock and rigorous schedule. Westminster is a private boarding school that competes in the Founders League alongside schools such as Taft and Choate. Russ Sheppard, a former teacher at Vimy Ridge, was the one who pushed me to try boarding school. He made the call to Westminster that I will be forever thankful for. Westminster, much like Vimy, was a place where I could do all the things that I loved to do. I was fortunate to make both the varsity hockey and lacrosse teams my freshman year. I also took up football for the first time in my life. My three coaches became some of my greatest role models during my four years at Westminster. I would like to thank Lee Huguley, Tim Joncas and Peter Newman for always challenging and pushing me to be the best that I could be. I would also like to thank Mr. Peter Briggs, who served as my advisor for all four years at Westminster. I turned to Mr. Briggs a lot for help when I was having struggles personally. I also need to thank my former roommates Charlie Niles, David Lee and Austen Tibbetts. Without great roommates it would have been a tough adjustment coming all the way from Edmonton. Thankfully I had some of the best roommates I could have asked for.
I am extremely lucky to have attended Westminster and Vimy Ridge. I thank every staff member and every student who has ever made a difference in my life. I am excited to move forward and give back to Vimy and Westminster in the near future.”
With Tristan in a “gap”year before attending college there has been a lot of self-reflection for him. The house is nearly full with only Aidan away and Tristan has been strengthening that bond between himself and youngest brother Dallyn. Dallyn was almost 10 years old when Tristan left for Westminster and now at 14 has to make up for some lost brotherly time. And not having Aidan around has made the two of them the best of buddies.
That may lead to Gap Year Problem #1. Your Little Brother Being Your Best Friend. Tough to re-establish friends here in Edmonton when you haven’t been around for 4 years. Oh yeah there are guys to hang out with, have couple of beverages, but not the same as those Westy friends. I know Tristan yearns for some hang out time with D. Lee, McNally and Tibetts, but has to settle for Baby Dallyn and some serious PS4 time. The social life has been taking a hit as the network of friends is 2000 miles away. I can only imagine the change Tristan is experiencing. At Westminster he was surrounded by his peers 24/7 in the boarding school environment. He lived with his friends, played sports with his friend and went to school with his friends. They could not get away from each other. Back home that is all gone and as all his friends move forward to their college experience, the gap year seems like it will never end.
Gap Year Problem #2. The Real World. This year off before attending Lehigh has put a lot of responsibility on Tristan’s shoulders. The primary responsibility is to earn some money to help pay for the college years. This has meant getting to work each day with me and working with young lacrosse players. There are a lot more demanding jobs out there, but the real world implications of getting up, completing work on time and just being a responsible adult can lead to a certain level of frustration. And having to deal with 12 year old students is teaching Tristan about patience.
Gap Year Problem #3 The Monotonous Workouts. My message to Tristan is to use the gap year to improve yourself as an athlete so you can be a better player on the field at Lehigh. This has meant 5 day a week workouts. They are not easy workouts and the day to day grind of going to the weight room demands a high level of commitment. Tristan has been very good and has not missed a workout. His little brother tags along and they both have been putting in the time. It probably seems like the light of the end of the tunnel is not yet visible and there are several months of hard work ahead. The good news is that he can use this time to make some significant gains. The effort, however, has to be there each and every day.
Gap Year Problem #4 The Parents. When Tristan was at Westminster he was elusive. If he did not want to talk he would not answer his phone. He would reluctantly get on Skype with us to talk via video. He would do his best to keep his interactions with us to a minimum as Tracey and I tried to find out more about what was going on with school and life. That has changed dramatically and we are in his face daily. The lack of communication we had over the past four years is being replaced with minute by minute updates on everything in his life. He most likely is feeling inundated with parental requests. So is he sick of us? Oh most definitely.
The “gap” year is a blessing for us and in some ways for Tristan. I know it seems like it’s going to be a long year, but so far for Tracey and I we are enjoying all this time with our oldest. Tristan may not see it in the same light, but deep inside he loves being home especially with his mother taking care of him. We understand that when he leaves for Lehigh we may not get this extended time with him again so we will savor it while we can. Selfishly.
The youngest, Dallyn, is not the most outgoing boy. He keeps to himself and does not go out of his way to start conversations with people. For the past three years, save the summers, he has basically been an only child, as his brothers have been away at school. He would go months without seeing his brothers. This year having Tristan back home we have seen a young boy more willing to express himself. There definitely has been a change around the house in a good way. You forget the brotherly interactions that go on that are part of the day to day activities. And when Aidan was around in the summer the energy was raised exponentially.
This gap year for Tristan is a good thing for Dallyn and us. We love having the boys at home and watching Dallyn interacting with Tristan has been a great gift for us. Tristan is working with him at school, working out with him and spending a lot of down time with him. They are spending a lot of time together, making up for lost time over the years. It only makes us miss Aidan more as one more brother in the mix would be even more fun. I will take it and enjoy it, because before you know it Tristan will be away again.
Williston football is now 3 – 0 in the early season football action. After a close win over Westminster (kudos to Westy), the team has won two blowouts. One thing is for sure, Williston takes their football seriously and has a tradition of strong teams. Led by Coach Conroy, the Wildcats are looking to make this a memorable season. Good luck to Williston for the rest of the way. Oh and by the way I heard their manager kicks ass.
With the two older boys now over 18 years old, the journey to being an adult straddles a fine line that is constantly stretched and trampled. There is the actual legal age of being an adult and then there is reality. I know I personally struggle with the concept that both Tristan and Aidan are old enough to vote, drink in certain provinces and take on many other responsibilities of being an adult. Yet in my mind they are not fully prepared to go out and take on the world, though if they decided to, I could not stand in their way. Hey, and if you want to shave your head, go for it.
I appreciate that Westminster and Williston have been so good at helping both boys developing their independence. I love the fact that they both can function in the real world, make decisions and take initiative without my interference. Maybe that is my problem. When it suits me fine I am okay with it, but when I disagree it makes me upset. Do I need to take a deep breath and let them live their life? Yes, probably, but a little consideration would be nice as well.
Cross my fingers and hope that the stumbles into adulthood are minimal as well as the costs.
This summer seemed much different then the last few summers. In the previous three summers we were preparing to send the two older boys away for school. There was a lot of work to do as they needed to get things for the start of school and we needed to ensure all the school forms were completed and submitted. This year we only had to get Aidan ready to go back to school. In the previous four years I have traveled down to the US, but this year we sent Aidan down on his own. This is Aidan’s fourth year down in the States and with all his traveling experience he is more than able to handle it on his own.
Tristan is on hiatus this year as he has a “gap”year to fill before heading off to Lehigh next fall. His summer was filled with uncertainty as he needed to focus on how to fill the gap year. I could definitely sense the frustration as we neared September and the Snapchats from his friends started coming in showing them getting ready for college. His friends, Austen Tibbetts, Mike McNally, David Lee and more are all making their way to the starting days of college. Tristan on the other hand was getting ready to go to work with me at Vimy where he will be working with young aspiring lacrosse players. This is the same school he attended in Junior High so it is sort of a homecoming for him. I know he would rather be at college getting ready for classes and the rigors NCAA lacrosse. I do think the year off will be good for him as he spends time in the gym and gets hungry to get back to school.
Aidan was ready to go to school. His summer, as Tristan’s, was a time of helping out around the house, working out and eating everything in the fridge. He was able to play some lacrosse, getting back out east for a recruiting event. He needed to get back to school where he has more structure in his life than when he is at home. One very positive thing is that after several years of putting it off he got his Learners permit to drive. Now all we have to do is get him behind the wheel to teach him to drive. The interesting thing about Aidan is that he does not care about that. He is a very unique young man who walks to his own beat. There is no reason to push him in certain directions, he needs time to find his path on his own. I am starting to figure that out with him and give him space, but it still does get me fired up. I sure love that kid and maybe he gets me worked up because I am so much like him. Strong possibility.
I can tell you that when all three boys are home in the summer it is a great place to be. They get along so well and rarely every fight. They love to chill out with each other enjoying the opportunity to do very little. Very relaxed trio. Dallyn loves having them around and now with Tristan here for the summer I know Dallyn will enjoy the time with his biggest brother. I am hoping that Tristan is able to teach some things to Dallyn over the course of the year. Maybe some lessons that he is not interested in learning from me.
Summer around here is officially over. The sun is not as strong and the cold months of Alberta lie ahead of us. It was a great summer though. Aidan is back at school ready to work through another year at Williston. Dallyn is at home ready for another year of Junior High at Vimy. And Tristan is home. After the last four years of sending him away to school, Tracey and I are so happy to have him back for a year before he goes to Lehigh.