The difference in genders becomes more apparent each year at this time.
Moms tend to look at the beginning of the school year as a bittersweet event. The requisite first day photo shoot features kids in spanking-new shoes, pristine clothes and clean backpacks, but the smiles morph into quivering lips and tears as the little ones enter the classroom.
To some it is almost like watching their offspring enter a Soviet gulag, never to be seen or heard from again. But most dads know this isn’t the case. By late afternoon, the little cherubs will be hovering around looking for dinner or will be carousing around the neighborhood having fun, free of the trauma normally associated with a Siberian prison.
Maybe men are just hardened by their rough exteriors, but we recognize that each year brings the kids closer to leaving the nest, able to fly without the baggage of two parental units hanging onto them. When men break down, they do it for good reasons. When the car insurance bill comes the first month after adding a teenage driver, tears might flow faster than the money going down the drain. When the final sporting event in a school career ends, it is like watching Brett Favre leave as a Packer. Your children might end up still playing like good old Brett did, but it rarely matches the feel of their glory days.
Men may not like their little ones growing up, but we understand that stopping the clock is not possible. There is a good reason why Father Time is male. I even take a more pragmatic approach: As long as I’m holding the checkbook, I don’t see the kids taking too much of a leave of absence from my company.
Overall, though, I think men just have a different perspective. I don’t cry at a fifth grade graduation ceremony, mainly because it is a FIFTH GRADE graduation ceremony. It would be like taking a trip cross country and weeping every time you crossed a state border. There might be a slew of reasons to get upset because you are now in Tennessee, but the trip isn’t done yet and in a few long hours, you can sob in Arkansas or somewhere else.
In the trip of life, there are more grades to conquer and more lessons to learn.
I came to realize sometime after marriage that you can’t control female emotions, but I learned well before that you can’t stop aging. The best you can do is hope you’ve done your best and that the lessons imparted have helped shape successful people, or at the very least, keep them out of a gulag.