A few days ago, I wrote about how my wife Anna came along and rescued two bachelors back in 2015. She made both of our lives so much better that it is really hard to put into words. Because of Anna, my heart became whole again, my son now not only had a new, full-time mother figure in his life, he had a new best friend and the opportunity to play a game he loved again. Anna and I bought a house that would put us into a new school district, that was not only better academically for Ethan, it open a door for him athletically. At his old school, Ethan was no more than a tacking dummy, told he was just not good enough, too small, etc…. Well, that same kid became a starter for his new school, was named defensive player of the game his very first high school football game and showed what you can do if given a chance. He went onto his senior year where he made all district, got a few offers to continue to play at the next level but decided against that and made a lifetime of memories in a 2 year span. That kid that just wasn’t good enough for one school, was and still is now, on the side of his high school football teams trailer. Graduated with honors and is starting his second semester of college today. I am forever grateful to my wife for changing my son’s life for the better in so many ways.
Ethan’s mom and I divorced in 2009. I wanted and got full custody of him. I wasn’t going to have it any other way because I felt it was too important for a then 10-year-old boy to have his dad there everyday with him. I am not going to get into why his mom didn’t fight for custody but I am thankful everyday that it all worked out. It was hard on him when his mom left us. I am sure he will get mad about this but for the first few months after she left, he slept with me, just to feel safe I assume. It was an adjustment for us both.
I got to be with him, not missing one moment of his life. The good time and the bad times and there were plenty of both. Money was very tight but I made sure Ethan always had a roof over his head and food every day. Being on a strict budget, I made sure Ethan got all he wanted and was full before I would eat. I may have some beans with a little left over hamburger meat in them or half a pork chop with some green beans but regardless, Ethan had a good hearty meal. We fought over homework and school, laughed, cried and hugged just like all families. I had the honor and privilege to be both Dad and Mom, which was not an easy task. I am the disciplinarian by nature but I had to also be nurturing, loving and do all the bragging on him. I’d see all these mom’s on Facebook bragging on their children’s accomplishments and I made sure Ethan got the same. I am sure most of my friend’s got tired of it, questioned my sanity but, he was my son and it is my job.
I had to work a lot of strange hours those days, being in the car business, that is what you do. That would mean a lot of times, Ethan was staying at home by himself . I had great neighbors that would help keep and eye out on him for me and for the most part Ethan was a good kid. He usually did as he was told and never caused any issues or trouble. One day at work while trying to sell a car, I get a phone call from a strange number. I don’t normally answer calls from strange numbers and this one was no different. This time the unknown number left a voice mail. I finished up with my customer and listened to the voice mail. It is one no parent wants to hear. “Mr Olmi, this is the Southaven Department. We have your son Ethan in custody and we need you to come to the station.” My heart sunk as I got in my truck and headed to the station. The officer in charge gave me the lowdown. Ethan a 2 of his friends were caught trespassing at a junk yard and destruction property. The boys were having a big time throwing rocks at junked cars and breaking the windows. As they led me to the back to where they were waiting to interrogate my then 12-year-old son, I was going thru every emotion in the book. Fear, anger and shame were all at the top. As we made the corner, I saw my son, my little boy being talked to by the police officer. As soon as he saw me, he eyes filled with tears. What happened next was both the most I had been disappointed in and most proud of my son at that time in his life. The officer asked Ethan, “Son, did you throw rocks at the cars and break those windows.” My little man set up straight and looked the office in the eye and said. “Yes sir, I did it.” No excuses, no trying to weasel out of it, he took responsibility for his action and ready to accept his punishment. As a parent, you hope you instill that into your children, that they understand their actions have consequences, good or bad and you have to be willing to accept them. That was a dark day but, at the same time, showed that he had been listening to what I had been trying to teach him. We came out of that unscathed for the most part, he learned his lesson and has never made that mistake again. He is soon to be 19 years old and I could not be more proud of the young man he is becoming. He still has a lot of growing up to do but, I believe with all my heart he is destined for great things.
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Being a single parent makes it that much tougher. There are no instruction manuals and most of the time you really have no idea what you are doing. Most days it is a thankless job, and your child usually thinks you are an idiot or an overbearing jackass just trying to ruin their lives. But it is also the most rewarding and greatest job on the planet. Of all the hats I have put on in my career, two are my most proud and honored to be called. One is Husband and the other is Dad. Thank you Ethan for coming along and making me a dad and thank you God for making me Ethan’s dad.