Jillian and Ryan on their honeymoon

The newlyweds are spending the week in a hotel on Hilton Head Island, SC. The in-laws, all four of us, are down the beach maybe a mile, in another place. The new couple has made it plain that our presence is not entirely welcome. We asked them if they’d enjoy a dolphin-watching excursion. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Two hours. It says you might even get to feed them! Sound like fun?”

Them: “Not really.”

Me: “You guys would be dong this by yourselves.”

Them: “Yes!!”

Jillian and Ryan have been together more than a decade, so entertaining themselves is no longer an issue. The parents take care of a few basics — logistics and transport, mainly — and they do the rest. This week, they’re planning most of their meals and entertainment. We see them a few minutes during the day. We had dinner together last night. Sort of. They requested their own table.

Because Hilton Head is a popular vacation place for Cincinnatians, and the Salty Dog is an overwhelmingly popular spot on Hilton Head, Jillian and Ryan were recognized as soon as they showed up last night. People who had read the book, or about them in the Cincinnati Enquirer, shook their hands and wished them well. By the end of the evening, an anonymous admirer had bought them (and us) dessert.

They, um, don’t mind the attention.

“We’re famous, Dad,” Jillian is fond of reminding me.

“Fame by association,” I say.

We always expected Jillian to get married, and have a honeymoon. Even so, this has been a week for permanent smiles. They’re living their dreams. And ours. photo (6)It’s astounding what can happen when we teach our kids, believe in our kids and never stop. Jillian and Ryan are about as independent as any honeymooners. What’s even better, they like it that way.

“So, you guys aren’t coming with us to the dolphins?” Jillian asked me. I said no.

“Great,” she said. “When is it?”

Expect. Don’t accept.

Thanks for reading.



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