Category Archives: Anna

Throwback Thursday: Anna tackles bluegrass

My daughter, Anna, isn’t particularly shy, especially around adults. One of the more grand displays of her outgoing nature happened late July 2012 at the annual Coleman Station Bluegrass Festival.

If you’re unfamiliar with the festival, that’s OK, just know it’s easily one of the better bluegrass events thrown in Western Pennsylvania. It happens every July in rural Somerset County, and it’s thrown and organized by my brother-in-laws father, Tim Custer, who is an extraordinary banjo player. The festival attracts nationally recognized bluegrass acts in addition to local musicians. It’s an excellent time for family and bluegrass fans.

Two years ago, we were lucky enough to attend, and it coincided with my mother’s birthday. Tim, with the help of my brother-in-law, Tim, and nieces, Teresa and Abby, planned to sing her Happy Birthday. Anna was coaxed into going on stage with her cousins, and it didn’t take long for her to command the attention of the few hundred people in attendance.

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Father of the year

Dads, we get a bad rap. We rarely get enough credit. And, you know what, a lot of us totally rock.

We do the things no one else at the house will – plumbing, mowing, raking, gutter cleaning, taking out garbage and grilling. We don’t ask for credit. We don’t need praise or crave attention. Maybe it’s because we’re used to not receiving any.

That’s about to change.

It’s time to give dads credit. We deserve it.

Heck, we’ve earned it.

Earlier today, I dropped my only child off at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School, part of the Greensburg Salem School District, in Southwest Greensburg. The day was landmark for several reasons:

  1. Anna was embarking on her first day of kindergarten.

photo (7)Anna friends

  1. Dad works an evening job.

For 5 1/2 years, my daytime was filled with Anna. All Anna. All the time. We took walks. We read books. We listened to music and watched cartoons. We sang and danced to Katy Perry. We played soccer, wiffleball, rode bikes, went to the mall. Had lunch dates. She came to the gym with me. She was my constant companion, and one incredible friend.

Suddenly, at 8:53 a.m., my Anna walked herself inside Hutchinson after giving a couple football players from Seton Hill high fives and disappeared into the masses. She was officially a student. My whole world changed at that very moment.

I had something called FREE TIME.

What’s that you ask? Well, for parents, it’s that time when you’re not working and not watching your children. It’s rare, some say. I wouldn’t know. I hardly had any the past five-plus years. Now, I’ll have plenty of it. Golf? Fishing? Not rushing at the gym? Day drinking? These are all possibilities.

And I’ve earned it.

People keep asking me, “How are you going to be when Anna starts school?”

I dreaded the potential answers. The day before she started, I grew sentimental. I knew I’d miss her. I even teared up a time or two thinking about the impending event. I thought about how women would smile and tell me what a wonderful father I was because I took my child to the doctor’s office, the dentist, the grocery store or wherever. It always came across as sexist to me. After all, I don’t work during the day. What else would any respectable father do?

But as I walked with Anna, hand-in-hand, toward Hutchinson today, I didn’t get upset or sentimental or sad.

I was happy. Yes, I’m going to miss her constant chatter, companionship and love, but I’ll figure it out.

Happy for Anna, who was hopping along singing some Mary Poppins tune. Her life is just beginning, and I see someone who is going to seize every opportunity.

See, Anna isn’t your typical kindergartner. Sure, most parents would say that, but how many of them have kids who can more than hold their own in conversation with a roomful of adults or can name extensive songs from the KISS catalog or not only question everything and anything, but take the time to critically think about the answers. She’ll hear something two years prior and bring it up in conversation for the first time, every detail intact.

I’m only skimming the surface. If you’ve met Anna, you know. She’s the true definition of “something else.” She’s going to own that elementary school. No doubt in my mind. I hope you all feel the same way about your child.

And I’d like to think I played a big role in that. I’m certain I did.

Halloween

Dads, I know a lot of you are just like me. You’re willing to be there for soccer practice, school pickup, to put on your daughter’s jewelry when she asks, wear a costume to the school Halloween party or to sing a Guns’n Roses song when the mood hits. You’ve taken your child to the doctor and ice skating lessons and dance recitals.

So that’s why this one’s for you. Keep on rockin’.