Unconditional Love

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When I first started this blog five years ago it was to document Tristan’s time at Westminster School as he left home at age 15. The blog evolved as Aidan left home and it changed even more as I started to capture the daily events of all the brothers, including Dallyn. The boys all have their own distinct personalities, but they also share some very similar traits. They all are quiet people, not wanting to be the center of of attention. They do well at school, but are not child prodigies, just hard working boys in the classroom. They all love their video games and movies. They rarely fight and the physical altercations among them are very rare. When they are all together it is awesome to see how well they get along.

As Tristan and Aidan have grown up they have spent so much time away from home. They have turned into independent young men. They are able to navigate themselves at school, with their teachers and their coaches. I believe in the five years with both of them away I have spoken to a total of two teachers about academics. The two of them have taken the responsibility for their academics and have acted admirably.

I love my boys and I miss Tristan and Aidan so much when they are away. It never really hits hard unless I consciously  think about them being away. When I am busy it is easiest. My mind is somewhere else and I can concentrate at the task at hand. Not so easy when I am idle. It has not been easy lately. Since Aidan has left, about four weeks ago, Aidan has rarely spoken to us. Tracey did see him when we were in Syracuse a few weeks ago, but his contact with us has been minimal. This is not the first time Aidan has backed away from contact. He did the same last year when he was in lacrosse season and was working though an injury. He wanted time and space to figure things out on his own. It seems he is in the same frame of mind now. Maybe it has something to do with his hasty departure from home to go back to school. Something is amiss. All reports from Williston are positive and he seems on track at school. Maybe this is a minor blip in the big picture of life.

I guess in the Parent Handbook I received when the kids were born they missed the chapter on how to deal with your children when they do not want to talk to you. I can tell you I am not dealing with it well. Tracey is so much better about this than I am. I know it hurts her, but she is so willing to give Aidan space and allow him time to work it out on his own. This does not sit well for me because I always want a response. I need the communication and it makes me sick that I can not hear his voice at this time. I can not even get a text message or a comment on Facebook. It bothers me even more because Tracey, who has always been there for Aidan, can not get anything from Aidan.

I am the father and I am suppose to fix everything. I guess in this case I need to step back and hope that within time things work itself out. I love Aidan and all my kids unconditionally. As difficult as this is for me and how frustrated I am, the love continues. This is not easy to write. I putting this out there because it is therapeutic. I need to share my thoughts. It makes me feel a tiny bit better. I can remember myself at 19 and life was far from clear. Take a deep breath and believe in your kids.

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Oops, You Leave Tonight

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It’s very interesting how your children’s personality seems to stay constant from their very early days to their adulthood. When Aidan was just a youngster it became clear that he was a creature of extreme comfort. He just loved to be at home doing his own thing. He never needed a lot of interaction with others. He loved to play his video games or just put together little Lego models. This behavior continued and even now when he returns home he loves to just chill out, watch movies, play video games, workout, enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant and just be low key. We also know that when Aidan is taken out of his comfort zone there is a severe negative reaction. He does not welcome the change and in many ways repulses at the sudden unexpected discomfort. When he was a child the unexpected arrival of a substitute teacher would make Aidan go into sudden despair and tears. It was very touching, but also very difficult to deal with.

The past few departures to Williston have been early morning flights from Edmonton. That has proven to be a poor choice on our part because Aidan settles in at home and having to rise up at 4 Am to get to the airport becomes a battle. Usually it starts with Aidan not getting more than an hour of sleep, then making sure he leaves all his packing undone and then the final part of forcing the boy out the door. There are no warm hugs good bye, just a boiling over of anger at having to leave his warm cozy confines of the basement.
This year we had it planned out that a late night red-eye flight would be perfect. It would give us the whole Saturday to get things ready, have a good meal and avoid the tumultuous departure. We knew it was going to be hard still, but at least we were going to have some preparation time to diffuse the time bomb of the departure.

That, of course, is not how it all worked out because on Friday evening at 8 PM, Tracey decided to do a check of Aidan’s flight information. She quickly realized that 00;55 departure meant Aidan was in fact leaving in 5 hours, not the next evening. She knew it was a late night flight, but mistakenly thought it was Saturday night, not Friday night. She then had to venture downstairs, as Aidan was just lying down to watch a movie and crash for the evening, and tell him he was leaving in a few hours. That led to Aidan scrambling around to get his wash done and get everything packed.

He was not happy. In fact he was distraught. It is so hard for him to leave home as it is and then to throw him a screwball like we did was very difficult. He did not want to go and he made it clear as the clock ticked to leave that he was NOT going back. I can totally understand what he was going through. I would have been pissed off too. But knowing Aidan’s personality this was the last thing he needed to hear. I unfortunately had to do the Dad thing and approach his reluctance to leave with very little compassion. It was time to leave and it had to be known that there was no more discussion about it. He got in the car and it was a quiet ride to Edmonton International Airport. The  hug was quick as I sensed his pain. It was just a crappy way to send him off for his senior year at Williston.

When Tracey and I arrived back home it was past midnight on September 12th , our 23rd anniversary. We had just finished an evening of arguing about the flight mistake and then went through the emotional turmoil of sending our middle child away to school. No one was celebrating anything. That entire night Tracey checked Aidan’s flight status to make sure he made his connections and all flights were on time. Aidan, of course, did not actually let us know he arrived okay until he was at Williston. Thankfully one of Aidan’s friends Snapchatted Aidan at school so I was able to see he was back in his room and that friend also sent a Snapchat letting us know that Aidan was actually happy to be back. Once I saw that Snapchat I felt at ease again. He was back, smiling and with is school mates. It was all good again.

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Small Problems to Big Problems

When your child starts growing up the daily problems start to minimize in number, but grow in magnitude. I am finding so much of my time is spent on resolving issues for my kids. As much as Tristan and Aidan have created independence for themselves by going away to school, there are so many things they need assistance with. Travel, visas, medical, insurance and the list goes on. I know that the parent contract told me that I needed to accept these responsibilities, but there are days when it wears me down. Then I shake my head and stop feeling sorry for myself. My mother and father did it for me, especially when I was an ungrateful young adult. I need to take my own advice and “suck it up”.

School is around the corner for all of them. Tristan starts at Lehigh this week, Aidan goes back in a week and Dallyn is just days away from starting at Vimy.  There will be more problems and many of them will be resolved by the kids. A few will come my way. I will get antsy, deal with them and move on. I really should enjoy these moments, still being the father lending a hand even after all these years. If I look at it like this then it will lessen the aggravation. Or I can just suck it up.

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Here We Go Again

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It was five years ago that I started this blog. It was started as a way to document Tristan’s time away from home as he attended Westminster. It then morphed into a brother blog as it followed Tristan at Westminster, Aidan at Cardigan/Williston Northampton and of course the little guy Dallyn at home. There were times of numerous posts and then times of no posts.

Well it’s time to reboot the efforts. Tristan is days away from starting at Lehigh. Aidan is a few weeks from starting his senior year at Williston and Dallyn is heading into high school. This year has been frantic and chaotic. Tristan was traveling to Australia and then Ontario for lacrosse. Aidan has been figuring out his future plans in lacrosse and school. And Dallyn is trying to figure out if the prep school path is one that he wants to follow.

Sometimes when I look at parents with little kids I get a little sad. It went by so fast. I try to remember what the kids were like when they were young toddlers and it feels so far away. I feel a little helpless, because the memories are faded and it bothers me. They are not crystal clear like they used to be. Then I kick myself and focus on the newer memories or the memories to come. The kids are not dwelling on those things so why am I?

The kids have been apart so much over the past five years, that when they are together is special. We had two days together just a couple of weeks ago. Yes, a whole two days. And it was awesome. There is a connection that happens when they are all together. It is similar to a recipe that has three wonderful ingredients that taste good individually, great when they are paired, but when they are combined the flavor is spectacular. I am starting to treasure that flavor more and more, because I have no idea how frequent they will all come together in the future.

More adventures, decisions, excitement and drama ahead. Brotherly love definitely!

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The Holidays Are Family Time

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.

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In His Own Words

tristan_signing_3Tristan 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.”

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Gap Year Problems

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.

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