I am, officially, old.
The last of my three children is graduating from high school this week, and will attend college in California in the fall. Her older sisters are married. One lives in Ogden and the other in Salt Lake City.
So when our baby moves out, we'll be empty nesters. But for now, if you hear a loud sigh of relief -- and I mean deafening enough to compete with Hill Air Force Base jet noise -- rest assured it is me, my wife or maybe even both of us, because the public-education years, at last, are behind us.
It's not as if these final weeks have been a lope into home plate. Oh, no. It's been chaotic, including senior pictures, mailing and/or delivering graduation announcements, keeping pace with friends and an unrelenting onslaught of last-minute homework/makeup assignments.
Yes, my youngest child inherited from me not only a habit of speaking bluntly when all good manners and logic argue against it, but my partiality -- the wife would call it "addiction" -- to procrastination.
As I type the words of this column, Daughter No. 3 is in another room of the house, laptop fired up and editing a video project for extra credit. It's due in a matter of hours. I would be agitated in a time-honored fatherly fashion, except it's precisely the way I approached high school ... and college ... and deadline journalism.
Old dog. New tricks. You get my point.
While percolating in this soup of academic desperation, I have been pondering the things I will not miss about grades K-12 and the extracurricular life that filled those years -- 23 of them, if you count from the first day my eldest daughter walked into a Layton kindergarten classroom.
* Science fairs. Saying those words out loud, or even thinking them, makes me shake a little bit.
* Book reports. They wrote them (mostly), and I edited them. But did they actually read the books? That may never be known.
* Having to watch in stoic, example-setting silence as coaches, on occasion, benched my children despite their exceptional athletic talents. (OK, I wasn't always so silent.)
* Girl drama. Although I didn't have a son, I've been told females are meaner to each other in school. I've raised three daughters; I believe it.
* Robocalls from the high school attendance office. A LOT of robocalls.
* Signing endless disclosures at the start of the school year. It's like refinancing your home mortgage.
* Fees. Endless fees.
Still, I don't want to leave the impression that I believe public schools are hellish places, designed to make a parent's life miserable. Certainly not; the kids do just fine in that department on their own.
There were fun times. Watching my daughters and their friends play school sports was a delight. So were many volunteer opportunities ... or so my wife tells me. She was the one who served as PTA president one year, helped with class parties, was a room mother and reading tutor.
And, hey, in spite of the fact that I'd rather shove red-hot pins in my eyes, the two of us will be volunteering at the all-night after-graduation party this year -- she's a member of the planning committee. She'll be having a great time. I plan to find a quiet place to sleep.
All that said, once we walk out the school door after the party is over and the police have processed the crime scene, I may not have to enter another schoolroom for about five years. That's when my grandson is due to begin kindergarten.
Oh, happy day.
Email Don Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.