Our youngest is graduating later this week from college. Woo-hoo! Take a deep and humble bow and give yourselves a large pat on the back if your child will also be strolling across that great stage of life this month. Hubby and I toasted several months ago with a cheap bottle of pinot noir. That was, of course, right after the ink … and tears … dried on the last tuition check. We consider the graduation ceremony to be the gooey cream cheese icing dripping down the sides of the ever-so-fattening carrot cake. My sister-in-law asked me after receiving Ricky’s graduation announcement how the lad made it through the last four years. That question caused me to pause and reflect. Hmm, betcha $9 dollars that journey has to be different for every single youngster. For Ricky, I like to think of it as three level-headed cups of brains and determination. Then stir in one heaping teaspoon of love and support from well-seasoned parental units. Kinda reminds me of making cookies … creaming multiple sticks of butter and lots of sugar together in that great mixer of life. I know a bunch of amazing parents that have achieved this claim to fame. It’s hard work. Whether we were baking our kids into batches of chocolate chip cookies with nuts, impressive fruit pies with flaky crusts, or three-layer cakes, we did it in all sorts of ways. For us, it began before Ricky left home for freshman year. “Just like when your sister went off to college, your mother and I are expecting a phone call every Sunday. We like to know that you are still breathing,” hubby told Ricky. It wasn’t just about plugging into how he was doin.’ Heck, lots of stuff happened on the home front in the last four years while Ricky had himself planted in Virginia. A nasty hurricane named Ike immediately comes to mind. Each Sunday also included passing the phone around to whoever happened to stop by the Frantz abode for dinner. Mimi, our special child, was usually so beyond excited when it was her turn all she could say was, “Hi Re-Re” and “yeah” to his questions. Have to admit we had to change things up a tad this time around. Our oldest child went to a Texas university. We physically moved her in, drove up for multiple football games and fun weekends, and then moved her out at the end of every school year. With Ricky it was a matter of depositing an oversized trunk and a body at the airport. Very impersonal to my way of thinking. I liked how with Katie, we left her dorm room with the bed all made up with a stuffed bunny beside her pillow. Heck, in the final analysis it didn’t matter much if we were pulling out of a Texas university parking lot, or saying our goodbyes at the security gate at the airport … it was always a three-hankie experience for me. It’s probably why when Ricky couldn’t fly home for Easter this year, we all felt really bummed out at the Frantz house. Fortunately, I remembered a wonderful chocolate shop in the tiny town where Ricky attends school. I’ve used them in the past for sending our son/roommates snack baskets during final exam week. Yup, this year I learned they also deliver Easter baskets. I’m certain the Easter Bunny hops on over to colleges all over the nation in many forms. Did I ever tell you what I did during Ricky’s first year in college for Halloween? Probably not. I went down to the local Walgreens and bought a plastic pumpkin. Filled it with all sorts of candy and mailed it. Yep, and I was so proud of myself when I actually kept it a surprise. A few of us in the Frantz house are terrible at keeping secrets when it comes to gifts. I’m the worst. I also mailed Ricky stuff several times each month. Heck, everyone loves getting mail from home when they are far away. Sometimes it was just the local sports page, but mostly I mailed him one of my columns with some cash tucked inside. “Bet you didn’t know this, but I always used the cash you sent me for take-out Chinese food. I think I single-handedly kept the place in business,” Ricky confessed last week. Yep, to my way of thinkin’ it doesn’t much matter whether you are baking your child into a cream pie, or a very tall layer cake, the moment they graduate always results in one heck of a tasty dessert. Dixie Frantz is a longtime Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist since 1996. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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