Tomorrow can't come soon enough when away from kidsMy youngest granddaughter, growing in independence, wit and wisdom with each passing day, turned 3 years old a week ago. We see Sage quite often, living an easy 80 minutes away from her Chamberlain home. When there’s no reason to go to Chamberlain, we connect on the road at her sisters’ school activities. Just a couple of weeks ago, during a break in the action in the Chamberlain girls’ district basketball game at Miller, we sat in the bleachers and shared early birthday cupcakes, a nice moment on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
My youngest granddaughter, growing in independence, wit and wisdom with each passing day, turned 3 years old a week ago.
We see Sage quite often, living an easy 80 minutes away from her Chamberlain home. When there’s no reason to go to Chamberlain, we connect on the road at her sisters’ school activities. Just a couple of weeks ago, during a break in the action in the Chamberlain girls’ district basketball game at Miller, we sat in the bleachers and shared early birthday cupcakes, a nice moment on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday.
It isn’t enough. Little kids change so quickly. Miss a couple of days and a toddler is applying for a learner’s permit. Nancy and I don’t want to risk staying away so long (like two weeks or something crazy) that Sage doesn’t recognize us again.
I worried about that sometimes with my own kids. Back in 1973, I spent much of the late winter and early spring on assignment during the Wounded Knee occupation. I worked for The Associated Press.
Pierre was the closest AP bureau to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, so fellow reporter Terry DeVine and I split duties on the Pine Ridge for the 71 days of the stalemate. The AP sent photographers from all over the country to take shifts during the story, but the Pierre bureau carried the reporting load.
Early on, the bosses decided it would be fair if DeVine and I took equal turns at home and on the reservation. We each had young families, after all. They broke things down into two-week shifts, and we’d swap out on Sunday afternoons. For the person arriving on the story, the trip from Pierre to Martin took no time at all. It was far too short. For the person leaving the story to head back toward home and family, the road was much longer than it had been two weeks early on the way down. The homeward-bound reporter fought for nearly three hours the temptation to eat up the miles with the accelerator pedal to the floor.
By the time two weeks had passed on the story, all I wanted to do was get inside my house, hug Nancy and collapse into a chair in the living room to marvel at how much Scott and his big sister, Jennifer, had changed in the 14 days since I’d driven away. For the first couple of days after I got home from Wounded Knee each shift, I’d spend most of the off-work hours just looking at the kids, listening to them talk and laugh and wondering where they picked up this new expression or that way of holding a pencil, book or toy.
The hardest part of the Wounded Knee assignment wasn’t the long days or drawn-out press conferences or blizzards or dust storms or even the chance — not great, but still there — of being accidentally shot by one of the numerous people carrying firearms. The hardest part came after I’d filed my overnight copy, made the changes the editor recommended and was free until morning. That’s when I’d call home. I’ll never forget the sweet, tiny sound of my kids’ voices over the telephone line as I leaned back in a desk chair in a room at Harold’s Motel. Their voices sounded so far, far away.
Each evening one or the other of the kids would ask, “When are you coming home?”
No matter what I would respond, they’d ask, “Is that tomorrow?”
Gosh, it was hard to hear that and know tomorrow was only Tuesday or Wednesday, not Sunday.
I spent way too much of my kids’ young lives on the other end of a telephone line from one story location or another. I don’t know how young adults making a living and raising a family avoid those kinds of separations, but I don’t know if I could do it again.
Kids grow up way too quickly, even if you’re paying attention. It seems as if Sage was just born last week, and she’s 3 already. I have to keep an eye on this one, and not by phone.