A decade, a PR, and becoming a big kid. Those are a few benchmarks our family hit a few weeks ago. My wife and I took our middle son Max on his 10 year old trip to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay for a long weekend trip. That same weekend our oldest son Stone ran his first high school varsity cross country race, and our youngest son Charles had his first weekend without a parent or grandparent. These particular benchmarks were a reminder that our boys are growing up, and it's also an exciting time to watch them mature and develop into the young men they are becoming.
The decade trip is something we did with our oldest son so we were excited to continue that tradition with Max this year when he turned 10. It was such a fun and unique time for us to get to spend 3 days of alone time with Max, especially when it's packed with fun rides and 'saying yes' to any treats or requests. There was a new ride at Islands of Adventure called 'Velocicoaster.' My wife and I had never been on it but our oldest son had recently been on it and said it was a must-do. We saw the wait time for it drop to 35 minutes and new we had to jump on the opportunity. Waiting in line, Max was a bit anxious not knowing how intense or scary the ride might be, and my wife and I figured it would be just fine. When we had to take all of our loose items (phone, watch, etc) and put them in a secure locker, then we should have known it was going to be wild. But wow, it was the most intense roller coaster I've ever experienced between twists, turns, drops, and accelerations with a lot of the ride over a lake and with only a lap belt. Max was next to me during the ride and squeezing my hand, but when we got off the ride, I immediately made eye contact with my wife and raised my eyebrows to subtly communicate 'wow, I hope we didn't just traumatize our child!' But Max was an absolute trooper and he grew up a few more years that day. Max can be a man of few words at times but getting to see his pure joy in going on Dudley Do Right and Popeyes river ride dozens of times and us all being soaking wet, it really made it an incredible experience to be there and witness.
Meanwhile, Stone was running his first high school Varsity cross country race as a freshman. It was a massive race with 37 schools from all over the state and each team had 7 team members competing in the race. He ended up shaving over 2 minutes off of his best 3.1 mile time, ran an 18:31 (his PR - personal record), and placed 2nd overall on his team. We were so excited for him to see his level of effort and dedication to running pay off. Right now, he's got the 34th fastest time for a freshman in the state of Florida, so we are looking forward to seeing where his passion for the sport will take him.
Charles had his own adventure that weekend. He recently made the jump from kindergarten to 1st grade which is a big jump at his school in terms of responsibility and the rigor of the day. But with Jen and I out of town, we had Colby come and house sit for us and be the guy in charge for Stone and Charles. Stone was out and about most of the weekend through running and being with friends, so Charles and Colby spent a lot of time together. It was a great time for Charles to mature as a young man and have that time away from the comfort of mom and dad. Colby did a fantastic job as Charles got to have some fun riding his electric go cart but also had to do some workouts to earn his screen time!
Being a parent is more than a full-time job and can be completely exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally. But being able to enjoy, celebrate, remember, and reflect on the benchmarks of your kids truly makes it all worthwhile.