2007.07.29 We're down to two toothbrushes

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I knew long ago that it’s all set up backward. Young parents are hard at work to make ends meet when their children are young. Then, as their careers settle down and they have more time on their hands, their children are grown and soon gone.

That’s not right. It shouldn’t work that way.

I haven’t thought about it so much recently with two kids gone and the third having worked her way through high school and becoming more self-sufficient through the years.

But it all came back earlier this month when Morenci’s basketball coach Jim Bauer resigned. He used the time-honored phrase: To spend more time with his family.

Every coach has his or her method of running a program. In Jim’s case, it’s pretty much total immersion. He’s not drowning in basketball; he’s having the time of his life trying out new strokes. He loves coaching.

He knew his “total immersion” approach was a problem when his seven-year-old son was overjoyed with Morenci’s loss in the tournament last March.

But it got worse. He and his son were driving home from Morenci over the summer and Jim was deep in thought about the defense he would be running for a summer tournament game.

Suddenly he got a punch on the shoulder. His son was upset and said something like, “Dad, I’ve been talking to you and you weren’t even listening.”

That was it. Jim soon drafted his resignation letter.

I’m sure there are people who think he’s crazy to quit, but I knew just what he was saying. To do the job of coach and father correctly, something had to go.

I think most people in that situation would have made a pledge to spend more time with the kids and then try to ignore the fact that it was slowly sliding back to normal before too many weeks passed. I was impressed that Jim was able to give up something he loves so much for someone he loves so much.

So where is this column leading? Am I about to announce my resignation in order to spend more time with my family?

It’s a little late for that. We’re down to two toothbrushes in our bathroom. Maddie has gone off to college.

Running a weekly newspaper—doing it right, as Jim Bauer would say—is pretty much total immersion. When people ask if a fourth generation of Greens will take over the paper, I answer that I hope not. I wouldn’t wish that on any of my children.

I think Ben got the best of my life as a newspaper editor. I was plenty busy from the start, but not as much back then. Plenty of swimming, but far from immersion.

I used to frequently take him on the job. I still remember him standing alone in an empty boxcar in Weston as I took a night photo of the chemical plant that had just been sold. On another occasion, we trudged through a swamp in search of the copper-bellied water snake—knee-deep for me, waist deep for him.

I’m sure Rozee had fewer of the off-with-dad adventures than Ben, but Maddie probably got cheated the most. As Ben got older, the things he could do with me often excluded someone six years younger. Maddie began spending a lot of time with her sister while I was getting busier as I learned how to do this newspaper thing right—or at least how to do it in a way that I think makes a good weekly gift to subscribers.

So Ben is living in Miami and Maddie is at the University of Michigan for her second day. Rozee has packed the last few boxes into her car for the trip back to Berea College in Kentucky, her final year there.

After Maddie’s high school graduation in May, I heard a lot of remarks from people about the empty nest coming up. In a few minutes it’s going to be reality, although it’s not quite an accurate assessment. There are still two people living here. Two rather busy people.

And now that all the kids are gone off on their post-high school endeavors, the backward life kicks in—I have all the time I need to work.

Too bad I don’t know more about basketball.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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