Back to School 2017
By Don Lindsey
While summer won’t officially end until September 22nd, my children and I feel that it will come to a close on Monday when they start back to school. This particular summer has gone by so fast that it should be given a speeding ticket and as I sit here typing this, I can’t help but look back on the last couple of months with gratitude.
My health issues keep me from working and while that is and always has been a tough thing for me to deal with, it is also a blessing in the fact that it allows me to spend a lot of quality time with my kids. Trips to Sea World, Aquatica, ice skating lessons and a vacation were fun times to be sure, but looking back on those experiences now, I see that there was much more.
I learned a lot about my kids.
When I came into their lives six years ago, they were just children ages 4, 7, and 10. I knew when I married their mother that I would be responsible for them as a stepfather. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how they would capture my heart and how watching them grow into young adults would change the way I see the world.
For instance, my oldest son is on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s considered to be high functioning but still struggles with a lot of things that are sensory-related. Changes in his everyday life affect him significantly, which is why we were very concerned last year when he started his freshmen year of high school. He was changing school districts as well, and that had us even more concerned.
Although the beginning of the year started out rough, he finished strong and will move on to his sophomore year. Watching him deal with new challenges on top of what he faces and watching him work on improving himself day after day is more than inspiring to me. This young man finds a way to excel no matter what obstacles lay in his path. I watched him yesterday at the water park as he laughed and splashed around in the lazy river. This is something that I didn’t think he would like because of the lack of control one has while floating around on an inner tube and also because he does not like to try new things.
Once again, he proved me wrong.
This young man continues to find ways to get the utmost enjoyment out of his life, and there is nothing that stands in his way. Adults are supposed to be looked up to by children. In this case, that thinking is the other way around. He is one of my heroes, and I am blessed to have the honor of being his stepfather.
My middle son has grown a lot as well this summer. He had some issues in attitude when the summer began and anyone with a 14-year-old will tell you that it’s normal to see such things. As the summer progressed though, I saw exactly who my son is. I watched as he took on more responsibilities around the house, taking trips with his sister and me to visit my parents in preparation for moving them here. We’ve had in depth conversations about how they are doing and the questions he would ask shocked me because of how concerned he is for their health, and mental well-being. At 14, I don’t know that I cared about my well-being let alone anyone else’s yet here he is doing everything he can to figure out the best way for him to help my parents.
Yesterday, I sat in a lounge chair and watched him play in the kid’s area of the water park with his sister. Going down all of the slides with her, keeping an eye on her and doing what he could to make her day enjoyable. The responsibility he is showing along with his genuine concern for others makes him another one of my idols. I am truly amazed by this young man and am grateful that we are in each other’s lives.
My daughter’s energy and enthusiasm, keeps me going most days. When I’m sick and grumpy, she knows just how to make me laugh. When I’m worried that she will struggle with something, she grins and shows me that I worry too much by doing with ease whatever it was that concerned me. Being a ten-year-old little girl brings a lot of emotional upheavals, and insecurities but this little angel seems to plow her way through all of that and keeps laying the groundwork for a great future. She loves school and is probably the only one in the house who’s ready to start back on Monday.
She also enjoys trying new things, like ice skating for instance. I’ve sat at the RDV Sportsplex a few times this summer and watched her move around the rink practicing the things that she learns during her lessons. She takes on challenges not with apprehension, but with excitement and that has taught me a lot. Life can bring some very scary things to our doorstep, but it also brings adventures and positive experiences that last our whole life. She has taught me how to enjoy life in that way and is just one of the reasons that I look up to her.
George R.R. Martin said something that I think is very appropriate: “Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”
While the season is ending, it will be back next year, and my children will be a year older and wiser. They are growing out of the young little people that I met in 2012 and rapidly into adulthood, but instead of wanting to hang on to them as children, I find myself anxious to see them as adults. These little folks give me hope that our society is not as lost as I often fear that it is. There are still people overcoming adversity, looking to help those around them and wanting to make the most out of their lives and I have examples of that around me every day. So goodbye summer, thanks for the memories this year and when we see each other again in 2018, I hope that we have more fun experiences. I take that back because I know we will. My children will insist on having a good time, learning and growing and I will do everything in my power to make sure that I’m here to watch it all again.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, community and most importantly to God.