NOW is the time to spend time with our kids

The other day, sitting in front of the TV as a family to watch President Bush's State of the Union Address, our eighteen year old daughter said. "Daddy, he's going to be my boss, isn't he."

"That's right," I agreed, "The President is also 'Commander in Chief.'"

She glanced at the date on her watch. "You know," she observed casually, "I'm going to be leaving for boot camp six months from today."

Talk about your reality-check bombshell! Yes, it is true: In just a few short months, Naomi will climb in a bus with a handful of other local recruits and head on up to South Carolina for basic training. Our daughter is joining the Army, and George W. will be her boss.

Aside from all the good jokes I could make about my fashion conscious daughter and her new Khaki wardrobe, the limited supply of Army shoe styles, and the truly astounding idea of issuing an automatic weapon to someone who is scared of a two inch lizard, I am suddenly and numbingly aware that we are well into the home stretch regarding family life as we know it.

I want to go to the movies with her, take her putt-putt golfing so we can laugh ourselves silly, schedule as many family dinners as possible, sing that song together in church we keep putting off, invite her to walk the dog with me, stop working when she comes home from school so that we can chat before she runs out again, discuss the books she is reading, play monopoly, sit together in church even if it means crashing the senior high section, take her out to dinner one on one . . . Oh, I guess all the things that would have been a great idea to have been doing all along . . . .

If we still have kids at home, it is never too late to be the best parents that we possibly can. Never too late. Six months, one week, fifteen years: all time is redeemable. We just have to remember how important it is. Isn't it about time?

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