It Takes a Community

Published by sandymckeown on


Tadd, his parents, and his host parents at his college graduation party

It’s high school graduation party season. And it doesn’t just involve ham sandwiches, potato salad and cake. Guiding our teens toward good choices, again, but this time one that will, hopefully, be a choice that cements them in one place for four years and boosts them beyond for a lifetime. These are big decisions. Then, we’ve got to get them through it. They do experience difficulties along the way.

Tadd called home early in his first semester. He was taking a required English course, his least favorite subject, and had a writing assignment. He was to select his topic from a list provided by his professor. He was asking my opinion, keeping in mind he was required to use three different sources for this paper.

As he was reading the subjects to me over the phone, mentioning some vague topics that the professor probably offered for students who actually liked the class, I was getting concerned. There were a few I thought may be okay to try…and then he read, “the future of electricity.”

I interrupted him from reading further, “That one, Tadd, that one!”


“Because your Grandpa Kvanli used to be an electrical lineman before he retired. You can call and interview him and he will know a whole lot more on that subject than either you or me,” I explained.

“Oh,” he responded, “cool.”

And then I didn’t hear anything about it for several months. On another phone call I finally asked if he wrote his paper on the future of electricity, and he responded, “Yeah. Grandpa helped a lot with that. I got an ‘A.'”

My role as his mother was shifting. I was no longer required to be his daily, hands on helper in his life. For one thing, he was growing, maturing and seeking to achieve things that weren’t within my capabilities. And, I realized I couldn’t always help, but I could direct him to people who could.

During this first semester, Tadd also signed up to have a host family from a church in the area. This family would have him over on Sundays for a hearty, home cooked meal. They would attend his saxophone concerts and join him for ice cream, a McKeown family tradition, afterwards. And, most importantly, they were there, in the same city and state he was in, when needed.

One day Tadd called his dad with a car problem. My husband responded, “Call your other dad.” Marty was unable to help him ten hours away, his host “dad” could be there in a few minutes.

We all worked together to get Tadd through college.

In this graduation season, as we slap the backs of those grads and say, “Well done!” we must also clasp the hands of those that walked the journey with us and thank them for a job “well done!”

Thanks to all those who helped (you know who you are!) and thanks, Mark and Marian. You made the journey a little easier.

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Marian Erickson · May 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm

You’re too kind- You made me cry!

Sandy Jacobsma · June 1, 2012 at 3:21 am

So awesome his story and that of your and Marty. God sure knew what he was doing when Tadd was born into your family.

sandymckeown · June 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thanks, Sandy! M.A.G. and the wonderful people there also had a huge part in ALL of our children’s success!!

Cindy Davis · June 4, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I love how you explained how your role as a mother was changing. For so long mom has been the one to “fix” it. But as they grow older, pointing them to others who have gifts we don’t is like teaching them “how to fish”. I’ve missed your life stories and your infectious laughter!!!!,,

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