One of my favorites parts of writing for this column is the opportunity to share personal observations, stories and experiences.I appreciate the fact that many of you comment on those columns positively. I appreciate, as well, that not very many people comment negatively on those columns. That's not to say that I haven't ruffled a few feathers over the years with some of my observations and opinions, but not very many times.
Don't worry. This column didn't start out as one of those soapbox columns. This is rather one of those bragging times. I have three children that have all grown up to appreciate wildlife, conservation, the outdoors, God and this country. I have on a few occasions mentioned my daughter, Shannon, whose nickname in high school was Junior Nature Babe. You learned of her bowhunting experience a few months ago in one of my columns. Both my sons went on to get Biology degrees and both did stints with county conservation departments and the DNR. Both enjoy hunting and spending time outdoors.
I presently have three grandchildren, too. I expect that number to grow perhaps considerably over the next few years. Nothing would make me happier than to have a whole troop of grandkids to take fishing, hunting, etc. But right now I am pleased to report that the three we have are receiving quite the education from their parents and environmental education is a part of that. Back when the Science Center of Iowa opened in Des Moines, my son Seth was hired as their first reptile person. Seth's daughter, Sydney, is my little pretty in pink all girl granddaughter, but given her father's (and grandfather's) appreciation for reptiles, it is not a huge surprise that the little gal likes snakes. Her little brother, Turner, is only six months old, but I fully expect that he'll fall right in step with the snake appreciation thing. Right now, he just sits there and looks into your eyes with that heart melting look that says "Whatever you say Grandpa, I believe you. You know best."
My other son, Sean, has always been an animal lover. His son, Tate, is an animal lover, too. He's almost a year and a half now and says all sorts of things, but even his first words (well actually his first sounds) were animal noises. What does a bear say? What does a snake say? What does an elephant say? Oh, he knows the usual cows, pigs, and sheep noises, too. He's just as happy sitting on top of the deer target in our backyard as the bouncy horse in our living room.
Okay, I'll stop with talking about my grandkids. No, I won't. The whole gist of this column as it began to take shape in my mind was that as a grandparent, you realize just how time flies. The same things that your kids are experiencing as parents just don't seem that long ago for you. You hope that the few short years that you had them under your roof and your wing were enough. Watching them perform their parenting skills addresses some of those concerns.
To the parents of young children, I offer this advise. Show your kids what is important to you. What you tell them is important. What you show them is even more so. And to the grandparents reading this, well basically, it is the same advice. How did the old commercial go? You only go around once in life? Show your kids what is important to you. They won't go hunting and fishing unless someone takes them and shows them. Don't make the almighty dollar more important than a pheasant in a fence row.