When our kids were little, we took them to the rodeo a few times – fun, but not really our thing and we haven’t been back to see the horsies and lambies for many years. Now our kids are in college and graduate school, home for brief cameo appearances over winter break. The rodeo would not have been on our list of how to spend the precious little time we have with our kids before they head back to school. But…their friends from college are here to “experience Colorado” for a few days. Colorado, in the eyes of much of the world, is cowboy country. And the National Western Stock Show (“The Granddaddy of them all!”) is in town. What better way to give our kids’ college friends a taste of the state. Oh, by the way, we don’t ski. So, last night, for the first time in more than a dozen years, we packed the kids and their friends in the minivan (same old minivan) and went to the rodeo.

But this time around, my wife and I were watching more than the horsies, lambies, and cowboys. We were watching the parents and kids in the crowd, the little cowpokes with tiny cowboy boots and plastic cowboy hats. Little wide-eyed wrangler wannabes, holding mommy and daddy’s hands, eating corn dogs and cotton candy. No Regrets Parenting, with a country twang and a cowboy drawl.  Moments that those cow-tykes will never forget (our kids still remember their first rodeos – especially the time our oldest found a strange smelling brown goo on his hands after patting the calves).  Moments that their parents will someday tearily reminisce about. Much as Sara and I reminisced last night.

Nostalgia is good, because it means you had good times with your kids. Regrets are bad, because it means you didn’t take enough time for the good times. Take the time. Now. At the rodeo, or wherever you choose to make memories with your family.

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