A little boy I once knew, who is no longer little, is graduating from college today. How can it be? The years have literally flown by. He was the child who first made me a grandmother. My little Christopher Todd Petersen, who arrived on his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, changed my world…adding such a wonderful new dimension to it. My heart was filled with joy.
Chris had such a cute smile, and he made the cutest faces. He soon wowed us with his ability to make all the animal sounds on demand, and made us laugh as he emptied out any box or basket of its contents so he could climb in a sit a while. He was all boy…and the culture shock I had never experienced before, because I had daughters…well, believe me when I say, “Boys are very different from girls!!” I don’t mean just physically, but in every aspect of their being, from the physical…to their personalities. Nevertheless, having three grandsons and one granddaughter has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, a blessing beyond words.
Fast forward now, a little over twenty years, and suddenly that little boy is graduating from college. His dream is to own his own restaurant, and who knows, maybe even a chain of them. He is graduating as one of the top of his class from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. Even that seems like it flew by. Literally, it seems like yesterday that he headed off to college, calling home often to tell everyone just how homesick he was, and now he emerges…a man, with a degree. He is a chef…not a cook…a chef, with all the respect that goes along with that title. He has made good friends in Sheridan, and for now, has decided to stay there to live and work in a fine dining restaurant called Open Range which is located in the historic Sheridan Inn. Chris loves working there and tells us his coworkers are great.
He is living his dream. He has been very blessed to be able to work in such a restaurant before his degree work is even complete, and today Open Range becomes very blessed to have a chef working for them who has earned his degree, and brings with him the prestige that his degree carries with it. With his skill level and attention to detail, Chris will be bringing with him a level of recognition that Open Range can be proud of. It is a win-win situation for both of them. Chris has really taken to the style of creativity that is vital to fine dining, and he will be showing that great skill level to the people who live in and visit Sheridan in the future. Congratulations Chris!! Your hard work has paid off. We, your family and friends are so very proud of all your accomplishments. We wish you God’s very best in all your future endeavors!! We love you very much!!
As parents move into the college years for their kids, so much changes, and with those changes come so many emotions. That is where my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen finds himself today. His oldest child, Chris is in his second year of Culinary School at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming, and now, his youngest son, Josh has started college classes through the Boces program, while he is still a student at Kelly Walsh High School. While Kevin and my daughter, his wife, Corrie are both very proud of their boys, this year has also brought the changes in life very much to the forefront of their thoughts…and it really hasn’t been easy.
Kevin and Chris have worked together at Johnny J’s Diner, where Chris was a cook and Kevin a manager for several years now, but this year, Chris’ schedule will not really allow that. More likely, it is we, his family who will have to visit Chris, rather than the other way around. It is not even certain if Chris can get home for birthdays this year…his own included. This is a change that has been and will continue to be hard on Kevin, because his family means everything to him. Kevin is a great dad, and someone that the boys look up to. He works hard, and he has instilled those same values in the boys.
Then to make matters worse, Josh’s schedule is quite busy as well. When he isn’t going to school or working, he will be in evening classes at Casper College, where he is studying Fire Science, and eventually studying to become a both firefighter and EMT. While Josh still lives at home, I think Kevin and Corrie are starting to experience a little bit of empty nest syndrome. I think that most people experience that to a degree about this time in their children’s lives. Kids go to school and work, and what little bit of downtime they have is spent hanging out with their friends. Sometimes, parents get left in the dust. It is at those moments that parents wish that their young adults were still their babies. They wish the years hadn’t gone by so fast, but you can’t turn back time. We are all where we are at this moment in time.
No matter how little time Kevin and Corrie get with their boys, they are still so very proud of them, and all that they are doing. While this time in their lives is difficult, they know that in the future there will come a time when all the sadness of missing each other will be replaced with the joy of their successes. For now, however, as parents, they will be relegated to the background as their children get to shine. Still, I hope Kevin and Corrie know just how much their boys love them, depend on them, and look up to them. They have such a high respect for them, and they really want to make them proud. If the boys are busy, it is because they are working hard to do the things that they have dreamed about, and if their parents have taught them one thing, it is to follow your heart and you will achieve your dreams. These college years are fleeting, and will soon pass, and that will be an entirely new kind of change. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! We know it will be hard, but have a great day anyway!! We love you!!