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Published August 16, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Enjoying the real rewards of parenting

With each passing stage the kids grow through, I think parenting can’t get better than this.

By: Devlyn Brooks, INFORUM

With each passing stage the kids grow through, I think parenting can’t get better than this.

It can’t possibly be more enjoyable; it can’t possibly enrich my life any more than it already has.

And then magically it does: My miracle babies became wide-eyed and inquisitive toddlers; my toddlers became spirited and boisterous young boys; my oldest became a complicated preteen; and, most recently, that pre-teen sprouted into a thoughtful and generous young man.

Standing nearly 6 feet tall, with a strapping athletic build, Garrett often is mistaken for being several years older than he is. And upon meeting him, his young-but-wise soul reinforces the assumption that he’s an older teenager.

Thankfully for me, however, he’s only 13 and will be home for a while yet before venturing off to make his own way.

In the meantime, Garrett is growing through a stage that is producing quite a wonderful young man, even if it comes across as a bit boastful to say so.

Recently, the boys and I had the occasion to take a late-summer road trip. On the way home through the southwestern corner of Minnesota, we stopped at the Pipestone National Monument – a sacred, and neutral, spot to Plains Indians because the native rock was used to make pipes.

Now Garrett always has been the more bookish, more intellectually curious of the two boys, but watching his mind work during this particular experience was a treat I won’t soon forget.

I suppose it’s not a surprise that a prairie stream surrounded by lush, vibrant-green vegetation and a red rock bluff jutting 25 feet above the prairie wouldn’t hold an 8-year-old’s attention for long. And it didn’t. Thirty minutes into the trail walk through the monument, the younger son, Bug, had his fill of rocks and plants. So I had to entertain him during the rest of the walk so that I could still muster some enjoyment from the experience.

But, simultaneously, I got to watch Garrett carefully and silently take in the understated beauty of the scenery and machinate over the spiritual meaning of the site to American Indians. And that was special, well worth any effort on my part to distract his brother so that he could enjoy the experience.

I don’t know what Garrett took away from the monument. I haven’t asked. I was satisfied enough just to watch my young man grow from the experience.

And so I anxiously anticipate these next few years of parenting. If it’s this satisfying seeing him become a young man, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like watching him develop into his own manhood.

And then I get to watch it all unfold a second time with his brother, five years his junior.

I always knew that I wanted to have children and that I would enjoy raising them, but as a new parent, I was blissfully ignorant that the experience just becomes richer with each passing year.

What a terrific and utterly fulfilling surprise.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives in Moorhead with his two sons.