He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me…

Eric (son) and I concluded our college visits last week.  The May 1 final decision date was banging on the back door.  He has 2 excellent choices.  One close to home.  One a plane ride away.  Son like Father is not long on words…and Son has been close to the vest on the final call.  I roll out of bed in the wee hours of the morning today.  Look at the clock…3:50am.  Flip open my smart phone.  Email from Eric.  A rare occurrence.  I sit down.  I rub the sleep out of my eyes.  I take a deep breath.  And I read.

“So after giving it some thought I have my mind set on W.  Here’s my reasoning:

  1. W is more expensive but W’s school rank is higher than B.
  2. W is more appealing in terms of the small class sizes.
  3. I feel that it would be easier to stand out when applying to med/grad school in a smaller school with a reputation for exceptional academics.
  4. I found the living and food situation at W to be a lot better.  Air conditioned dorms. And I’m GUARANTEED to be on campus.  Which is a short walk to class.
  5. The major drawback to W is the distance from home but I feel the educational experience is superior.  I will just deal with the travel and deal with being further away from home.
  6. I felt a greater sense of community at W, and I warmed very much to the southern hospitality.  So this is my rationale.  I’ve been getting pretty excited at the prospect of going to W the past few days, so I think my mind is made up.”

So, it’s done.  Mr. Independent has pulled the trigger without so much as a 10-minute discussion with Mom & Dad.

And the irony was not lost on me. My son sends me an email (and btw he’d cc: his Mom) to advise me of his college decision. He communicates his decision with me via email. MY SON LET ME KNOW HIS DECISION VIA EMAIL.  Via email.  No email opening: “Hi Dad.”  No email closing “Love Eric”.  Just “my mind is made up.”

My eyes welled up.  I sat back down.  I read the email again.  A well written email.  A well-thought out decision.   He made the same call I would have made with the identical rationale that I would have landed on.  I’m proud of him.

The melancholy cloud rolled in.  And Harry Chapin’s song…Cats in the Cradle…immediately came to mind.  “He’d grown up just like me.  My boy was just like me.”


“Cat’s In The Cradle”

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, Dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home, Dad
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home, Dad
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad
You know we’ll have a good time then
I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin’ home son
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad
We’re gonna have a good time then

Related Posts:

  1. The Believer of Convenience
  2. Tic, Tic, Tic…6 months to Empty Nest


  1. For those of us who are Fathers of (almost) grown children, and especially sons, Cat’s in the Cradle is a sad, sad song. And, it’s even more sad if the words ring true and loud.


  2. what a proud father you must be! you did a grand job of raising him!


  3. I think it’s commendable that he knows what he wants and has logical information on which to base his decision. He’s a better person for making the decision based on common sense rather than on emotion. You should be proud of him for that (and I’m sure you are).


  4. Sad song…but so true…. Welcome Dad! Farewell Eric! It’s time to make those wings fly… And he wants to fly high.


  5. Art Wasson says:

    Congratulations and best wishes to Eric! If W is anywhere near me in the South, feel free to let me know if I can be of assistance to you or Eric.

    Best regards,



  6. I doubt you are the Cats in the Cradle Guy…but having your child leave to go to college is traumatic enough. Finding a way to talk about it is hard as well. At least he gave you reasons. Sometimes kids leave without an explanation. Sending faeries to you all…


  7. Ahhhh…. They do grow up and having made the decision himself is so much better for him. I too have a son and new daughter-in-law heading away to college soon, they are older (late 20’s) but as much as I am excited about their new adventure, I will so much miss them.


  8. Congratulations on having a son who appears to have already mastered the “ciritcal thinking” pre-requisites for any professional school out there. I was near tears though, even though my own son is only 5, while I read this. My thoughts are with all three of you during this joyous but heart-breaking time in your lives. Best to you and yours, Lorelei


  9. arizonakanigans says:

    Wow. That is impressive; such wisdom & maturity. I teared up. You’ve got to be overwhelmed with love & pride. xo


  10. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    You’ve got me tearing up again. But congratulations to you for raising an obviously fine son.


  11. Happy-Sad … most definitely, but LOL at the “cc” to Mom … definitely just like Dad!


  12. Congrats Dave & Susan. This is how you know you’ve done a great job as parents. This is how you know they’ve been paying attention throughout the years.

    Great thought process by Eric!!!


  13. David, I don’t know your son, but from your post, sounds like you did a wonderful job! It’s funny how time flies and now he’s off to college. He’ll be back before ya know it…. With laundry! 😀

    Best Wishes!


  14. Perhaps he needed to tell you via email because the thought of being so far away from home was too much to handle – especially after having spent concentrated time with you on the college tour? He’s a bright, considered, caring young man (at least based on what I’ve read about him) – and in that regard he undoubtedly is just like his dad. If he’s in the Northern Virginia area, I’ll be happy to be a touchstone. Harry Chapin’s song speaks of a father’s remorse at his son’s distance – fomented by his interactions with the boy as a child. That’s not the ending here David – all I can feel is inestimable love from Eric to his dad, and of course vice versa. Ok, enough pontificating – you get the point…


  15. Paco Gonzalez says:

    Dave, like they say the apple does not fall from the tree… 🙂 my congrats to the family. Looks like Eric made a great decision. Paco


  16. This was very moving, David. Wow. How quickly time slips by as we raise these children. And how proud you must be. Thanks for sharing!


  17. Poignant, thought-provoking, and heartwarming. Thanks for sharing this, Dave.


  18. Great post, thanks for sharing this. I have several years before my daughter, and then my son, go off to college, but I hope they make good choices like yours did! I’m dreading it, as wonderful as it will be for them.


    • Hi Tony. Thank you. Time rockets by. With you being role model, I’m certain they make the right choice…and with some finesse on leaning and steering it all works out. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by. Dave


  19. We both have sons of which to be very proud, exhibiting such a wonderful ability to clearly think out and express priorities and then step out on confidence in one’s own abilities to properly assess pros and cons and refuse to freeze up in the face of life’s major decisions!


  20. At least he didn’t leave a tweet!


  21. Hey, at least he’s talking to you! I thought his email was smart and well-reasoned. That’s all good! Hope it worked out well for you both.


  22. Kind of reminds us to smell the roses, doesn’t it? Thanks for the link 🙂


  23. That song chokes me up every time I hear it. Every time. The premise always puts the fear of distance in me. I’m lucky — my two kids leave nearby. Both went to college locally. And now they are grown and I don’t see them as much as i used to. Which makes the song all the more haunting. You and I did the best we could — and the best will keep us going. Melancholy thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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