I should be sleeping, but I took a little nap this morning and now here I am up late with my mind racing. There's tons to get done...I got back from a meeting this evening at 8:30 and hadn't even eaten dinner yet. I have writing deadlines in the morning that I can't do until I get a response from a source, so that's stressing me out. I'm coordinating a dinner for about 200 veterans and guests next month and my phone is ringing off the hook with reservation requests. Last night was 3 hours of listening to voice mails, returning calls, checking e-mails and recording RSVPs. On Saturday my sister is getting married and I have tons to do. I don't think I have one complete outfit together yet for one person in this family. And tomorrow night my oldest son is going to graduate from the fire academy. I just can't believe it.
This is the boy who has been obsessed with firefighting since his dad joined the local fire department as a volunteer when he was 3. His dad enjoyed it, became a part-time, paid-on-call firefighter and later tested for full-time and has now been at it for a decade.
My oldest son had tons of fire truck toys and books and pajamas. He had memorized every piece of apparatus by kindergarten, including how old each vehicle was (the year it went into service was written on the inside of the doors, so he'd check each one.) He spent countless hours on his toy phone being a dispatcher. He'd start out making static noises just like on his dad's pager, followed by all the details of the emergency. "Lansing 162 respond to 2715 Ridge Road for an activated alarm. Keyholder indicates that it was activated by accident. Proceed with caution. KDK795." One year for Christmas, he got a set of real firefighter gear - made from the same material as the real stuff, just in a kid size. He LIVED in that gear until he couldn't fit it anymore. Then he'd get the next size. Each fire hydrant in town has a number on it. I could say, "Hey, where is fire hydrant number 168 and he'd tell me the corner of 181st and Roy Street or whatever...and he was usually right. And there are a LOT of fire hydrants in town. Sometimes he'd ask me to take him for a drive just so he could inspect the hydrants and make a mental note. So, he's been quite interested in it for sometime.
As he was growing up, he wanted nothing more than to be a cadet on the same department as Dad. At one time there was a very active cadet program and they took kids starting as freshmen at age 14. Wouldn't you know it...just before he turned 14, the minimum age was changed to 16. Then when he was almost 16, the program faded out. He was pretty bummed. He ended up being a cadet on a couple other area departments and then became eligible to be a paid-on-call firefighter with one of them. It's worked out nicely. In the fall, they sent him to the fire academy and he's actually had several instructors that his dad knows. A couple are his dad's co-workers. This year has flown by and I can't believe he's graduating from the academy.
I remember when his dad went through the fire academy and how excited he was when he finished up and when he got his pager and gear and when he went on his first call and went on his first fire.
A few weeks ago, my son got up one morning with the biggest smile I've seen on him in a while. He said that he'd gone on his first actual fire. He didn't get to go in the building until it was out and he helped with overhaul, but hearing the excitement in his voice as he talked about pulling down a ceiling really confirmed how in love he is with all this firefighting business. I guess I did have a little warning - like 15 years worth of warnings...but it's never long enough and you're never prepared enough to see you son grow up. Time flies!