Welcome to 18, Jake
by John Norberg, humor columnist s

I look up to our grandsons. I mean I literally really look up to them. I come up to their shoulders.

I like looking up to them. We love our two grandsons and our granddaughter. We also respect and admire them. It's not easy to be a teenager today. And we're proud of who they are.

This is a momentous weekend in our family: our first grandchild, Jake, turns 18.

Good grief! If our first grandson is 18, how old does that make me? Old enough to be his grandfather, I'm afraid.

Eighteen is an awkward age, Jake. When you turn 18 you're an adult. You can have your own opinions -- as long as they align with your parents -- and as long as theirs align with mine.

For 18 years, Jake, we've all worked hard to teach you important lessons. For my part, I taught you how to golf and most recently how to survive college: namely, how to eat pizza faster than the guys you're sharing it with.

Golf Pro: "Jake, who taught you that swing?"

Jake: "My granddad."

Pro: "That's what I was afraid of."

Okay, so I was wrong about golf. But I'm right about eating pizza in college, Jake. Trust me.

When you were a boy one summer night, Jake, you asked me about the crescent shape of the moon. I gave you a lesson in astronomy that would have moved my high school science teachers to tears. In fact, I often moved my high school science teachers to tears and I actually moved one into early retirement.

But you didn't believe me. You looked at the crescent moon and said: "I think that's God smiling."

That's when I learned, Jake, that granddads can learn a lot from their grandsons. If they listen.

Now I hope you remember the simple lessons you taught me as a boy.

I turned 18 in 1966. A woman from the Selective Service came to our high school and explained the draft. But we were going to college and had deferments. Vietnam would be over by before we graduated.

We were wrong.

Now, Jake, you're turning 18. And we're still at war.

Thankfully, today there's no draft. And while 18 comes with heavy responsibilities, Jake, the opportunities it brings will give you the strength to see them through.

I'm sorry for the world we're giving you, Jake. I thought we would do much better. But I'm not worried.

I believe in the future. I believe in the promise of tomorrow. I believe completely in your dreams.

And most of all, Jake: I believe in you.

Copyright © Federated Publications