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This is being written early in the morning, at 5 a.m. on Father’s Day, and since I’m not only a father but a grandfather I’d thought I’d say something about being one of those things.

First off, it took a mother to make me a father, so I can’t take full credit for the title because Renee had more to do with making me one than I did.

Secondly, I’d like the record to note that I had no idea what to do once I was informed that I was going to be a father. Yes, there are books, courses and all sorts of professional advice on what to do, but I never read them because once the kids came along I was too busy trying to figure out where they kept coming from, how to afford them, changing their diapers and wondering if I was going to be able to handle whatever came next.

Third, time seemed to whiz by. All of a sudden all three kids were in school, sports and the days quickly turned into weeks, months and years. So 40 some odd years later my memory banks are swamped with dusty memories of all the trials and tribulations of parenthood. The record seems to indicate that my kids did the best when I didn’t parent much.

For instance, it seems that I spent more time trying to parent the first two kids than I did the third, and the third was the only one who actually completed college then got married and had kids. The other two - not so much − which leads me to think that maybe I did too much parenting on the first two.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of all three kids. Despite my father skills all three of them seem to be happily living their lives and all three of them have given me the new role of grandfather.

Both of my loyal readers know that if I’d my druthers, I would have rather skipped the role of parent and gone right onto grandparenting. The grand-kids are like having a second chance at parenting without all the falderal that goes along with being responsible for my actions. Besides, the grand-kids seem to actually like me.

Being a grandfather doesn’t mean that you don’t care about all the stuff that goes along with parenting. Rather, it means that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff that parents get all wound up about.

Grandparents sort of sit on the side lines and cheer the parents on. Sometimes my role changes from worry to watching the process of payback. Like my dad said, the fun part of grandparenting is watching his kids get paid back for all the trials his own kids put him through, and from what I can tell this can be quite a spectacle.

I consider myself a very lucky parent and grandparent. Unlike many families where the kids not only leave home but move to faraway places, all of my kids have settled in Mandan. So we’ve become a very close family. When I retired I said I wanted to spend more time with my family, and I have to say that I’ve been lucky enough to fulfill that goal.

So thanks Melissa, Ben, Abe, Kelci, Tristan, Brock, Camryn and Renee for making me a father and grandfather. You all have filled my life with way more smiles than frowns and I love all of you with all my heart. Here’s to hoping you feel the same about your family.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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