Saying Goodbye to My Youngest



Writing is cathartic…the first three paragraphs were truly written the morning of my son Jacob’s college trip to Boston. It actually helped me pack the car and make the 90 minute drive to Boylston Street a bit easier. The rest of the post was written after some perspective.

The car is packed. Jake is pacing around the house and my wife is quiet. I’m thinking about Harold Martin’s school day starting in 10 minutes without me. It’s just about time to leave for Boston to drop my youngest off at college. I’ve been through this before but Jake is my last. 

My good friend Susan Copely sent me this column from Michael Gerson of the Washington Post this week, knowing that my youngest is about to leave the nest. With the skill of a professional writer (which I am not), Michael captures the emotion I’m feeling right now. Stop for a minute and read the piece. I’ll wait for you.

Ironically, Jake would love to be a Michael Gerson of the Post, David Brooks of the New York Times or perhaps respected columnist and commentator E.J. Dionne. As long as I can remember, my son has been fascinated by the politics and history of Washington and the geo-political intricacies of Europe. He is never satisfied with the status quo or simple answers to life’s greatest questions. He always displayed a low tolerance for ambiguity and those that are disingenuous. 

When I arrived as Principal at Harold Martin, Jake was in preschool. My life in this school has essentially paralleled his life. It hasn’t always been easy balancing the requirements of the job while being a good Dad. There are always some regrets during these years. While I never missed a major event such as a concert or performance, I rarely chaperoned a field trip. I wasn’t home some nights when I wish I could’ve been due to a Board meeting, a PTA event, or some school presentation. 

But like a good data-driven educator, you examine the results.

Look at your precious cargo when they’re about to lift off from the safe confines of your home. Are they compassionate people who are driven more by the needs of others than their own wants? Are they comfortable interacting with individuals of all ages, can they look their fellow human being in their eye, and do they spend more time listening than talking? Do they learn from their mistakes and can they see many sides of an issue?

This is what I hope for my son and his two older siblings.

Now, I think I’ll text Jake and ask him his thoughts on Britain’s parliament voting against military action in Syria. 

2 comments Add yours
  1. Thank you, Bill, for so thoughtfully and compassionately sharing what’s on your mind and in your heart as you help launch your wonderful Jake on to this next chapter of his life. Your questions at the end of your post reflect what all of us as parents truly want for our children. And of course he’ll be just fine in Boston, relishing all his new adventures. Much harder on parents…
    — Sue Copley
    (And I’m honored you mentioned the article I’d forwarded).

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