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home : opinions : opinions August 18, 2017

The Publisher's Pen

Watch your kids on family vacation

It’s important to watch your children when you’re on vacation.

Well, duh, you might be thinking. Of course you want to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. But that’s not the kind of watching I’m referring to.

I was able to take a day off last week and take a trip up to Gavins Point Dam for a few nights with my family of six and my wife’s parents, siblings and all of their children. We spent three nights and most of four days in close quarters in a nice rented home, not far from the lake on the South Dakota side, with a beautiful view.

Apart from a few cold drinks and some adult fire pit chatter (thanks to the nearby Kinnings’ cabin, of which we stole a bit of firewood from their home away from home one night!), the trip was very much about the kids.

The grand kids range in age now from five to 17, and it occurred to me at one point as I watched their spirited interactions that in just a handful of years half of them will be in college and the other half headed toward junior high. We all know five years is a drop in the bucket in the well of time, so the mere thought of it focused me even more on their smiles and imaginations.

The weather was quite cool, especially at night. Friday turned into a gorgeous day perfect for boating and the beach. I’m told fishing, too, though I chose to catch up on sleep. But Saturday was a relatively cold and rainy one. At first, I felt cheated out of another day at the lake. It was actually a blessing, though. With the sky alternating between mist, rain and cool breezes, it forced the kids inside for many of the hours. The girls braided each other’s hair and made bracelets out of string. The boys took turns playing video games and joking around. Somehow, they didn’t break anything.

Whatever their age might be, they all seemed to find something to do. And despite the decent wifi and no shortage of iPhones and iPads laying about, they mostly kept their noses out of tiny private screens and made memories together out in the open.

Not even middle age quite yet, I already have the sort of mind that remembers the smell of popcorn fresh off of the stove while I watched MASH with my dad and mom as a youngster, like it was yesterday — while whatever I actually did just yesterday I’ve forgotten. I worked hard at burning images of this special trip into my mind, though, and I think I succeeded.

But the memories the kids made, that’s what the trip was really for. They saw things, said things and even made things that they won’t ever forget. There was a bit of magic in the air, the kind that is coaxed from the proverbial ether by giggles, good food and hugs from the littlest ones.

It’s not always easy to get multiple families into a single place for a few days. It is, however, very important to try every once in awhile. And, when you do — whatever you do — be sure to watch the kids. They are having the time of their lives.

No love for Huskers

Like many who read this column, I’ve been reading a lot lately about my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers. But I’m not seeing much “love” for them when it comes to 2017 expectations.

This is a year that coach Mike Riley has a good deal of his recruits moving up the depth chart, his culture instilled and his pro-style quarterbacks ready to shine — hopefully.

Nebraska will start the season outside of the Top 25 and aren’t picked by many to challenge for the West Division of the Big Ten. Most have the Huskers sitting about third in the division.

With less than a dozen starters returning total from the 9-4 squad of a year ago (that won seven straight to start the season and just two of it’s final six games), experience isn’t a strong suit.

The good news? Maybe talent is.

I’m always a bit too optimistic each year, but I do think that if there’s ever been a season where a Nebraska team could surprise, this might be it. I guess that’s why we play the games — and it won’t be long before we knew a whole lot more about this team.

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