On Kids Growing Up

One of the most fascinating parts of being a parent is seeing kids who were once little seedlings grow up, branch out and become who they are! We always say, “We have nine kids, one of every kind”! And indeed we do! The past two weeks it has been so fun to observe four of our children’s adult lifestyles. One in San Francisco, two in Phoenix and one in Hawaii. The oldest son and youngest daughter are still single. The other two are the parents of nine of our grandchildren. All four are our children and all four love each other but they couldn’t be more different.

After feeling for many years that we would be parenting children in our home forever, our “baby” Charity walked out the door to Wellesley College nine years ago and suddenly….we were empty nesters!

Because we had a speech in San Francisco where Charity now lives we had a chance to be with her for a couple of days. She has always been driven and definitely a “Type A” personality. She was so smart that as a teenager, sometimes it was pretty hard on her to live with such dumb parents. So we watched with interest as she got straight A’s,in school, rejoiced with her through her tears when she got her first B in college (we were all so relieved) and enjoyed watching her become a stellar missionary in the England London South Mission, the same mission where Richard had presided thirty five years ago. Then about a year and a half ago, she took off for the love of her life…..San Francisco…and struggled to find a real job while working four part-time ones. Recently she did find a job in Palo Alto at the Innosight Insitute, an education think tank for Clayton Christensen’s company based on his book called Disrupting Class. What a joy it has been to see her figure out who she really is. Her life in summed up in the title of her blog called Dripping with Passion which makes us smile because she truly is…dripping with a passion for life. It can be accessed here.  It was such a pleasure to be with her as she joined us in our presentation and gave some credibility to our speech.

Our next stop was Phoenix where our oldest son Josh and second daughter Shawni live. Who would have thought when Josh was in elementary school, driving me crazy when it seemed impossible for him to remember to take his homework back to school and even when he did, he often forgot to turn it in, that he would become one of the best elementary school teachers alive! After serving a church mission in England and proclaiming that he sort of felt that his life’s mission was to work with kids as a teacher, we suggested that he major in something that would bring a better income and work with kids on the side. After majoring in construction management and working at one of the premier home building companies in America for a while, he knew that he could work his way up the corporate ladder and be a manager with a substantial income. But he was miserable and wanted a job that was more fulfilling to him. He gravitated to substitute teaching in Washington D.C. and loved going to work every day (really). He now has a long wait list for his third grade class at charter school in Arizona. After ten years, he still loves going to work every day!  You can see his latest class production on one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits the concepts on which the school is built here. All we have to say is “Dumb us and hooray for Josh!” (and good luck to Josh getting those kids to hand in their assignments on time).

One of the main reasons we went to Arizona was to be at our granddaughter Claire’s baptism.  Her mother, Shawni was a whiney, worried little child who had a stomach ache every Monday because she was so worried that she had forgotten to do an assignment. If there was a test she got literally sick. She was so shy that her freshman year at Boston University and her mission to Romania was an enormous stretch for her but she came out with flying colors. She was a “baby lover” from the time she was old enough to hold one so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that she is now the mother of five beautiful children and the American Mother’s National Young Mother of the Year. Last year mormon.org did a 2 1/2 minute post on a glimpse of her love for the moments of motherhood. To see that click here.  She also has a hugely popular mommy blog here. She is handling the myriad of challenges with her youngest child Lucy’s rare Bardet-Biedl Syndrome like a champion. That shy little girl has come into her own!

The fourth child we had a chance to see on that same trip luckily lives in Hawaii. As a little kid, Jonah was always thinking out of the box which we must say also meant a myriad of messes! He probably had some alternate learning systems but somehow also learned to fit into the mold. He was always thinking of ways to do things a different way. Extremely sensitive, he was also a people person. I think all the other kids would agree that he is our best worker! Who would have thought that cute little kid who was usually in some kind of trouble would decide on a totally different lifestyle than most people you would know. It is not for the faint-hearted! After his mission to England, he met his wife Aja while attending UMass in Boston while she was finishing her degree at Harvard. As a contractor he build eight houses in St. George, earned a nice nest egg and then started buying houses sadly in need of repair and make them livable, whilst living there! Their method was to look at a map of the world, decide where they wanted to live and go find a house to flip (that sounds easy) all the while with their eye on “being green”. Their first adventure was in New Zealand where they had a wild and wonderful experience. The revamp of their next house in Sequim, Washington was posted earlier in this blog here. They have just moved with their four children to their next adventure in Hawaii. Their little son Camden was being baptized so, of course, we had to be there!  How could we have guess how this wild child would funnel his life into such an abundance of creativity and fun, even though we knew how much he loves good hard work!  To keep up with them on their blog click here.

The bottom line is that if you are wondering if your children will ever “turn out”, let us assure you that they will!  But how they will turn out can only be discovered day by day. The farther we progress in our parenting, the more we realize that children come who they are!  The best we can do in parenting those little seedlings is to water them, expose them to sunshine, fertilize them, love them, even sing to them and after all that we can do, they will hopefully become the best of who they already are!


  1. Mary Arnquist

    Great article and great kids! Wonderful that they are doing so well. (Oh, and by the way, you may want to rethink the use of “wallah”?? See urbandictionary.com)

  2. Tony & Jose Burton

    We can remember Josh blessing the sacrament when we first joined the church in Epsom. And after you went back to the States you returned with Charity in your arms. That was a lifetime ago, and fondly remembered. Our oldest grandson is now 19 and we have 14 grandchildren. John is weeks away from becoming an English professor, and lectures at Lampeter Uni. David travels the world teaching IT and has three little girls, he and his wife also teach pilates. We have had a few trials, but that is how it should be I guess.

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