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Ben: Empty Nest Syndrome Is Upon Us
Ben talks through the biggest lessons he's learned recently from watching his family.
I was at the airport hanging out in my hanger one day just tinkering on the planes. This is where I go to "pretend” I’m busy and escape from Jewel's "Honey-Dos" (better known as chores). John, a pilot friend in a neighboring hanger, walked over to my hanger to "shoot the breeze." We were chatting about weather, flying conditions, airplane performance, and normal pilot chatter. In the middle of our conversation, just out of the blue, John says, “Ben, did you know you have an overbite?" Whoa! Where did that come from?! I was a little taken aback, but because I KNEW this guy, and I knew he had a good heart, I was not offended by his question. I just laughed it off and said, "Yep John, I used to suck my thumb as a kid and my parents were never able to afford braces for us, and I guess when I got grown I never got around to getting them for myself." He smiled and said, “Well, I'm going to help you do something about it now." It turns out that my pilot friend "John," is the same Dr. John Philipose of Image Orthodontics with three locations in Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, and Manchester, TN! I had known the guy AS A PILOT for a couple years but never knew he was the same "Dr. John" that had successful orthodontic offices all over the area. Because I knew him as a friend, I did not get offended when he asked me about my overbite. In fact, I am super glad I did not get offended, because it turned out that the reason he asked me was because we wanted to GIVE me free braces! Keeping your cool and being nice has its benefits. Had I got all bent out of shape and started yelling and screaming "Who does he think he is to ask me about my over bite?" I probably would have missed out on these braces, which would have cost several grand. You never get too old to get better. Now I am cheesing at 50 years old with braces for the first time, and it cost me nothing but kindness.
Lesson learned? Be quick to be nice rather than being quick to be offended.
This is a lesson I am re-learning every day in life and with my family. Let's see what else we are learning this week:
The Austin trip is coming to a close. I believe the family has been walking on egg shells for some time, but it looks like we are making progress in understanding "rules of encouragement" as opposed to "rules of engagement.” The dinner conversation ended with a great speech on love from Brooklyn, followed by coopertive apologies and Rock saying that they now will "receive the love" from the family. We gave Junice a loud, audible congratulatory celebration for her grad school work, a gesture that I believe pleased her, because she responded by saying, “It’s all good."
On the next day, we were not able to reach Junice on her cell phone and arrange for the family to have another get-together. No worries, though. It's been a long trip, and the family was looking forward to FLYING home anyway. We are super proud of the Rockman family, as well as the Barnes family and hope to see everyone again soon, but it’s get time to back home and reload. Lesson Learned? Words are powerful, but silence is golden.
You never get too old to get better.
Once home, Brooklyn had to hit the ground running in preparation for her next fashion event. Brooklyn has always been a hard worker, and she is now beginning to see the fruit of her labor. I am super proud of her, and I often say that if Brook was an NBA player, she would be the league's leading rebounder. She knows how to rebound from just about any situation and make it good. She has some new team members, and I am looking forward to what they are cooking up for show. What I’m most excited about is Brooklyn using Benji to deejay her show. It warms my heart to see my children getting over past misunderstandings and finding a way to work together, not just peacefully, but joyfully. Brooklyn ended up having a fantastic show complete with lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!
Lesson Learned? Let the kids duked it out on their own, sometimes. It will all work out. No referee required.
Meantime, back at the ranch...empty nest syndrome is upon us! Jewel is moping for many reasons:
1) She feels a bit disconnected from Junice after the Austin trip.
2) She is dreading Cyrene going to college.
3) She already misses Benji and Shanira who have moved into their own place.
And 4) Marcus and Tish are undecided on where they want to settle as a family after they have the baby.
I try to cheer her up and distract her with visions of the Tankard Palace becoming a two-person nudist colony, but I don't think it is working, even though she is smiling through it. My good friend Joel Osteen told me that, “Sometimes when you are in a storm, rather than fight it, you should lower the sails and just allow the storm to blow you to where God wants you to be.” Thanks, Joel! The longer I live, the more I realize that some things are just going to happen anyway.
Lesson learned? Everything changes...so let it.
Bye-bye to "Bae." We talked about this several weeks ago in trying to describe Cyrene's date, Hayden. He is a great kid, and they seemed to have a ball hanging out for the summer. However, she is getting to leave for college, so I guess it's time to say goodbye to her "bae" or "boo" or whatever these juveniles are calling it this week. She appears to have it all figured out, though, and there did not seem to be any meltdowns associated with the departure. Jewel is having to practice letting go, as well, and I think she is doing a great job of spending time with Cyrene and just giving her the "Mommy" support she needs as she prepares for the big move to Washington, DC/Howard University, which is a thousand miles away!
Lesson learned? Juveniles CAN ride the bike by themselves after parents let go of the handlebars.
Speaking of parents, Marcus and Tish are about to become Mommy and Daddy! It brings Jewel and I so much joy to see how great their marriage is and how happy they are to be pregnant. Tish's twin sister Keesha has come to visit and support them during the ultrasound. We were delighted to learn they are having a BOY! Now if we can just convince them to stay around for a while. Will they? Hmm...tune in to next week's season finale episode to find out.
Lesson Learned? Good comes to those who wait.
Until then...keep living and keep learning.