Editorial: Can you relate? September 2022

Josh Kramer

My oldest daughter celebrated her birthday recently. It was a Saturday morning, and I told my 6-year-old daughter, Olivia, to wake her big sister and wish her a happy birthday, which she eagerly did.

My wife and I could hear the exchange from the other room.

Knock, knock.

“Happy birthday, Sophia! …Two more years and you’re out of here!” Olivia exclaimed.

“Get out of here, you brat,” Sophia replied.

Olivia pranced her way downstairs, knowing this little witty comedian had a “good one.”

We all snickered at this sisterly exchange, but my wife’s chuckle quickly turned to tears, as we both realized our firstborn is inching closer to leaving the nest.

She is starting her junior year of high school, so we still have some time. But my brain starts in: There is so much left to teach her, so much left to do, places to see and things to experience together as a family.

On the day I began writing this editorial, my colleague’s daughter stopped at our office to give her mom a hug and say goodbye, before departing for her second year of college. As a bystander to the mix of emotions – excitement, pride and even sadness – I must admit I teared up a bit thinking of the not-too-distant horizon for my own family.

My wife and I have begun making a list of all the things we need to do as a family in the next two years. Needless to say, on Sophia’s birthday, we booked a vacation we had postponed for the past few years.

Can you relate? Maybe you’re a parent sending your child to school for the first time. Or a teacher welcoming a new set of kids to her classroom. Perhaps you’re a grandparent who gets to be the first to ask a precious grandchild, “How was your day at school?”

As we transition to fall in September and find a groove in the hustle-and-bustle of a new school year, there will be a mix of emotions, challenges, ups and downs. Too often, our focus falls to what we perceive to be wrong – and we forget to notice the things going right.

I catch myself taking the bait and falling into this trap of being the critic. I’m sure you’ve witnessed some real-life examples, too. In these moments, let us remember this line from the Disney-Pixar film, “Ratatouille” (as a father of five, I’ve seen them all): “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.”

Fight the urge to be the critic. Make the most of the time given. Find humor. Be thankful.

And, book the trip! (You guessed it: Disneyland.)

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at jkramer@ndarec.com.