One of my favorite things about being a parent is those sterling moments when I suddenly realize that one of the kids has gone beyond me and done something of their own accord that I didn’t prompt or of which I’m not even capable.

Emily’s artwork has been one of those things for me for a number of years. She does terrific work, and will often get an idea in her head, disappear into her room for six hours, and emerge with a finished piece. Her skills long ago surpassed Kathy’s and mine, and it has been a pleasure to watch her mature as an artist and to have the chance to learn from her and to enjoy her accomplishments.

Abigail has become quite a reading buff, and I’ve delighted in swapping books with her and getting to enjoy some good stuff that I otherwise would never have stumbled across. Her French Horn playing has also been improving steadily as a fairly direct result of her discipline in practice (something I’ve never been as diligent about as I should be), earning her second chair in her school band. And while Maggie at age 8 is still coming into her own abilities and interests, her impish and playful personality is already very apparent, and promises a lot of hilarity and joy as she matures.

Recently, it was especially delightful to me that, when Kathy and I returned from our day-long date to celebrate her birthday on the 16th, Liam slipped into our room and handed Kathy two sets of earrings from his school teacher (who makes them) which he had purchased without any help or prompting from me — the first time I’ve seen him take that kind of initiative with gift-giving. I was extraordinarily proud of the maturity and selflessness he showed by doing so.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to see all of these children turning into very interesting, utterly distinct people. I’m tremendously blessed by the opportunity to be a part of that process.