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As our youngest child, Sylvia, graduates from high school and fledges to adulthood I can say with great certainty that it'll take an awful lot to fill the silence of our changing household.
While some folks look forward to the "empty nest" years, Kristin and I will both admit we find ourselves gazing somewhat reluctantly toward the sunset of our collective child-rearing career.
We've loved being parents and not just because of some innate desire to successfully move our own genes forward through time, but mostly because we've loved having kids around.
In addition to our own children, our household has been blessed increasingly over the years as "the home where the kids hang out" with friends arriving in flocks and gaggles to roast marshmallows in our back yard, or turn our living room into a hobo jungle filled with sleeping bags and endless chatter.
I could go on for weeks, months, even decades on our adventures in a house full of kids, and my wife would happily cartoon each crazy chapter, but this particular column isn't about Kristin or me.
It's about our baby, who has, in a blink, grown to become a young lady whom any parent would be proud of.
Sylvia was born during the Academy Awards, and my wife, a huge movie junkie, actually had the television tuned to the Oscars as she labored in the delivery room.
Accordingly, Kristin, predicted that her new baby would one day become an actress.
And while the high school auditorium may be an awfully long leap from Broadway, Momma has been spot-on in her prognostication.
Without poking, prodding or any of the over-the-top antics some parents go through to see their kids live their own dreams, Sylvia has made a place for herself on the stage.
At the same time, she also has grown into a musician, artist, writer and lover of all things wild and wonderful.
She also possesses a lightning-quick wit -- an attribute developed early on as a tool for survival in a household where everyone was older, larger and louder.
Perhaps my favorite of Sylvia's attributes, however, is her keen awareness of what's going on in the world.
She cares about things enough to study the issues, to look for the truth and to dig in deep to make a stand, particularly for those who cannot stand for themselves.
I wish my dad could have met Sylvia, he would have loved her -- especially for those last few reasons.
To the folks who love to stereotype the kids of her generation as emotionally soft, intellectually anemic and politically bereft, I offer you the example of my youngest child to prove your error.
There are many more like her, and they're ready to take on the world.