On a Personal Note…

It’s that time of year again, when kids are graduating from high school, middle school, elementary school, etc. The college graduates, for the most part, were thrown into the real world about a month ago.

Yesterday I was in the Hallmark store picking up cards for my niece and nephew (they’re cousins, not twins), who graduate from high school within the next week. They’re both going to college in August; one to a school in Maryland and one to a school in New Jersey. It goes without saying that they’ll be greatly missed. Besides wishing them good luck and much happiness and success, my hope is that they will avoid what happened to me on the day I graduated from high school.

I fell asleep in the sun in the morning on graduation day and got a bright red sunburn on exactly half of my face. This is what I remember most about my high school graduation.

May the memories of my niece and nephew not involve sunburn.

My eldest graduates from high school two years from now. I started getting choked up in the store looking at graduation cards, wondering where her future will take her and feeling an almost palpable sense of sorrow because she’ll be leaving home.

When I got home she got mad at me for buying kiwis instead of apples for her school lunch, and I was brought back to reality with a lurch.

A friend of mine says that teenagers were designed to be difficult because it makes saying good-bye easier when it comes time for them to go out into the world on their own. But what happens when your teenagers bring more happiness than despair? I guess that just means it’ll be harder to say good-bye.

My middle child graduates from 8th grade next week, too. She is headed to high school, where she’ll be introduced to lots of new kids, lots of new activities, and lots more work. And she’ll be in school with her sister again, which makes me very happy.

Forgive me for spending the next few moments bragging unabashedly. Last week she received an award given to an eighth grader who demonstrates kindness, respect, and service to the school and community. The award is a big deal, and we couldn’t be more proud of her. I have a feeling she’ll be just fine in high school.

My youngest and another of my nieces graduate from 5th grade next week. They are headed for the big, wide world of middle school. There they’ll experience different teachers for different subjects, lockers, moving herd-like from class to class, and a higher degree of independence. And, as I keep reminding my child (and to put my own riff on a phrase from the movies), with greater independence comes greater responsibility.

Graduation is a time of moving forward, and I think that should be celebrated at every level, not just high school and college. In our family we’re proud of all the kids, whether they’re graduating from high school this year or have seven more years to go. Best of luck to all of you, and remember that we love you.

Until next week,