November 15, 2018

Column: Rewarding children can be its own reward


One of the many perks (or sometimes challenges) of being a small-town reporter is we are also called upon to cover events over the weekend.

While this duty can interfere with plans outside of work, a perk offered is seeing the highlights of our communities beyond the news.

I had a full day’s work ahead of me Saturday, June 17, covering two events in Ogemaw County, writing the cutlines, and preparing and presenting my photos for my readers’ perusing pleasures.

On tap for the day? An annual fly-in at West Branch Community Airport and Bikers 4 Kids Fun Day at Irons Park in West Branch. The challenge? My wife Shannon, a registered nurse, had to work, leaving me with four children in tow.

If you have seen me at games and events, you likely know it isn’t uncommon for me to have the kids with me. They have enjoyed numerous sports outings and events around the three counties our papers cover.

For some, having their children around while working can be a challenge. However, I am fortunate that my children are the ages they are — 11, 9, 6 and 1 — and they have become accustomed to enjoying events while I work in the distance. I am proud to say my wife and I have raised our children to be respectful and self-sufficient.

These two events provided me with the opportunity to reward my children for their good behaviors.

History told me the children would have an excellent time at the kids’ fun day event, an annual favorite for them. Bikers 4 Kids, the organization that hosts the event, provides children around the area with opportunities to play games and win prizes, enjoy food and refreshments, and participate in competitions like sack racing and doughnut eating.

For several hours William, 6, and Marlena, 9, ran around like the children they are, having the time of their lives. Our eldest child, Connor, 11, and our 1-year-old, Charlotte, meandered around the event enjoying the laughs, refreshments and the occasional game. Meanwhile, I could document it to share with our readers.

Our first event for the day — the fly-in —was almost dampened by the rain but thankfully it wasn’t.

Some might mistakenly assume an event at the community airport would not offer much excitement. However, this event provided me with an experience my sons and I will forever cherish.

I have been awestruck with flying since I was a small boy, when I made several trips to Florida to visit my snowbird grandparents.

Each of my many times flying, I have strived to get a window seat for the opportunity to gaze out as the world dropped away beneath me. I would watch out the window to see the world become a miniature version of itself before the plane would rise above the cloud ceiling, where it looked as if the world vanished and pillows of cotton surrounded me.

It has always been a peaceful escape.

In flights around the country, I don’t recall ever having the ability to witness others as excited as myself.

That changed this weekend.

Like other attendees, in addition to enjoying an affordable breakfast, checking out numerous aircraft, and building and flying balsa airplanes, we had the opportunity to take an airplane ride.

My children have never had the opportunity to experience flying, so naturally I leaped at the opportunity.

Afraid of heights, Marlena, 9, decided she would stay back with Charlotte so the boys and I could take to the air.

The flight lasted about 10 minutes, but the smiles and excitement for the boys lasted much longer. It was one of the moments, as I listened to them talk about the experience, when I felt victorious as a father being able to provide them with the opportunity.

We have excellent communities full of excellent people. You owe it to yourself to get out and enjoy it. Even the smallest moment can lift the largest burdens of life.


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