Heavy Lifting Continues Even After Kids Grow Up

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Heavy Lifting Continues Even After Kids Grow Up

‘That’s it! I’m getting too old for this. This is the last time I’m moving any of you kids!”

Those harsh words were uttered in complete exhaustion immediately after my wife Jayne and I helped move my daughter Alice from her dorm room at UW-River Falls to an apartment a few miles away. Let me be a bit more specific. My wife Jayne and I helped my daughter Alice move from her fourth-floor dorm room at UW-River Falls on a day the one-and-only elevator was not working to a third-floor apartment in a complex that had no elevator at all. On a hot day. Multiple trips. “That’s it! I’m getting too old for this. This is the last time I’m moving any of you kids!”

Those words held no prophetic weight as we have since moved Alice six more times.

Usually, in addition to unloading whatever vehicle we are using for any given move, I help with the loading end.  In fact, I have become so good at loading that you may now call me The Tetris Master of Packing.

Parents of children who are college-age or older who are reading this can probably relate. Those of you with younger children ... feel free to contact me for advice in the nearer-than-you-think future. I have four grown children. I’ve helped all of them move numerous times since they left the nest. Currently, 95 percent of my son Sam’s personal belongings are stored in my basement as he and his wife, Katie, are spending a few years living overseas. My contribution for that move was to unload the rental truck parked in my driveway and help carry boxes, bikes, and furniture down my basement steps.

Usually, in addition to unloading whatever vehicle we are using for any given move, I help with the loading end.  In fact, I have become so good at loading that you may now call me The Tetris Master of Packing.

The highlight of this particular skill was when I packed two cars’ worth of possessions into one Toyota Camry trunk and backseat. My daughter Laura and I had driven to Seattle to help my daughter Julia move her stuff back to Eau Claire. We succeeded getting everything inside the car. Poor Julia spent the 1,700 mile trip in the backseat squeezed into a space better suited for a tiny pet, like a hamster or a turtle. No need to rent a trailer when The Tetris Master of Packing is on the job.

We moved Laura many, many times as well. When Laura’s husband, Steven, got a job in Iowa, my job (after masterfully packing the truck) was to drive the largest vehicle I’ve ever driven in my life. I did pretty darn good the entire four-hour trip until I turned into the narrow alley that led to their rental home. I snagged a house’s gutter. A tiny voice inside my head said, “Stop! Now!” Another foot and I would have pulled the whole gutter off the house. Steven sauntered up the alley with a two-by-four and hoisted the gutter long enough for me to drive out from under it.

OK, I know I’ve got a bit of a grousing tone for this column. So much heavy lifting for so long. In reality, at my age, I’m glad I can still help the kids physically. As parents, my wife and I no longer need to take care of them every single day. Helping with their moves is one way we can still contribute. If any of them move again and we’re no longer able to carry boxes, sofas, beds, chairs, desks, lamps, tables, kitchenware, televisions, playground equipment, bikes, books, more books – boxes and boxes of books – well then Jayne and I will sit in lawn chairs with drinks in our hands and mind the grandkids while everyone else is climbing steps. That will become our new definition of heavy lifting.


This was made by

Rob Reid  author

Rob Reid is a senior lecturer of education studies at UW-Eau Claire. In addition to writing Children’s Jukebox (ALA Editions 1995/2007), Reid has also written two more books about children’s music: Something Musical Happened at the Library (ALA Editions, 2007) and Shake and Shout: 16 Noisy, Lively S