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Our five-year old boy came running into our bedroom, anxious to wake us early on a Saturday morning. “Dad, you gotta get up, you gotta get Durashine. Hurry. You gotta get it before they run out.” He was so sincere, tugging at my husband and waving a piece of paper with a 1-800 number scrawled on it. “Dad, it’s great. It makes the car shiny. And you only need a little. Hurry, Dad.” Our little boy used to get up before everyone else in the house and watch infomercials, the Durashine one being especially convincing, I guess.

Now at 21 that enthusiasm for life with us is still there. It shows up when he calls us first, just after the girlfriend, to report exciting news from work or school. It shows up when he goes out of his way to be with us for a family vacation. It shows up when we least expect it.

The fact that he is still part of our lives seems so simple, so easy, but it is a thrill and a miracle to me. Just having kids does not guarantee that they end up part of a loving family. It doesn’t always turn out like that. The family I grew up in seemed to disband as soon as possible. Of the five kids, four remain, of those, two left town and do not participate in anything except funerals, and the other two, my younger brother and I, do not find it necessary to talk more than a few times a year.

Like us, some kids disengage or run away if you don’t manage the early years well enough. That’s all it has to be, too, not perfect, just good enough. Durashine was one of a million opportunities to get it good enough. My husband didn’t actually buy any Durashine that day, but he did express his appreciation for being considered worthy of the breaking news of that fascinating, limited-time offer car cleaning product.

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