It’s a little daunting to think that my son, this once little, delicate life that I saw come into the world in a crowded hospital room in Bismarck, just turned seventeen. As I said last night, it’s astounding that he’s a senior in high school this year. And it’s amazing that he can drive. And it’s scary that we took some time at the State Fair to wander through the education building talking to colleges.

We had a big family dinner for him on his birthday at one of his favorite places: Annie’s Parlour in Dinkytown, which may have been a bad idea with all of the U students moving in, but hey…He seemed to enjoy:


He’s grown up into an amazing kid–as frustrating and challenging as a teenager is supposed to be (I guess…), but brilliant, artistic, sociable, and comfortable just being himself. With a great deal of pride, I present a couple of video highlights of Patrick from this summer.

As many of you know, we joined the YMCA in July. The membership was primarily to help Jenni and I get into shape, but we’d hoped that by getting the family membership, we could encourage the kids to come and work out, or swim, or do whatever else the Y has to offer. Patrick has taken very strongly to the rock climbing wall in the gym. We’ve even put the climbing wall schedule in our calendars so that he knows the nights and times when it’s available to him. He’s learned how to belay (handling the safety rope that is attached to the climber) so that he can climb and belay for someone else in the same session.

The wall has several different challenging levels, and Patrick seemed to master the easiest level pretty easily. So then he attacked the next hardest level. And then the next. Which caused problems, because part of it juts out midway up the climb. He had tried it on a few occasions before this one you’ll see below, which he really wanted recorded, probably because he thought that would be the night he’d conquer it, and he wanted to see the evidence of it. So here’s his climb:

Nope. I can’t do that. I don’t think I could even start climbing that wall. Maybe someday.

Next, we have a video that was kind of fun on multiple levels. Patrick had a great connection with his great-grandfather, my grandpa Willie. The connection ranged from Boy Scouts through to his saxophone playing. So at some point, my grandfather asked and Patrick agreed to play “When The Saints Go Marching In” for my grandfather’s funeral. That time came last fall, and honestly, this is the only song that Patrick has completely memorized, probably because of what it means to him.

He was asked to play it again at our church picnic earlier in August as part of the prelude. So he did, but what happened midway into it was a surprise to him:

Full-on jazz band. He came back to our table glowing.

Happy birthday again, Patrick. I’m very proud of you!

See you tomorrow.







2 responses to “Seventeen”

  1. Jody Russell Avatar

    Wonderful post!!!

  2. Rob Avatar

    Somewhere, Willy is just glowing with pride! Snapping his fingers, tapping his feet, eyes alight with that patented Willy-enthusiasm, and glowing!