The last few weeks have been fun at the News-Herald as we try to attend all the last minute school functions— the awards program, project fair, DARE graduation, guitar program, writers’ tea, and coming up as I write this, Baccalaureate and graduation.
The flurry of activities follows on the heels of our work to put together the Class of 2016 booklet. That is always a daunting task, trying to get the busy graduates to fill out an interview form and turn in a picture. We try really hard to include everyone, but occasionally we just don’t catch up with a busy senior.
I don’t think the members of the Class of 2016 mind too much. The memento booklet is more for parents and grandparents. As is this column, which has become a tradition for me.
I try really hard not to repeat myself in Unorganized Territory. In the almost 16 years I’ve written this column there have been times when similar ideas have been expressed. I’ve never intentionally run the exact same thoughts on the exact same topic.
But I’ve come close with the column I’ve written for parents of graduating seniors each year. It’s become a tradition to write this column, which almost writes itself.
The soon-to-be graduates are too excited to look to the News-Herald for sage advice. They are busy finalizing travel and housing plans for college or getting in shape for the physical training they will be met with when they enter the military. They are spending these final spring days with the dear friends to whom they will soon be saying tearful farewells.
It’s an amazing time for the Class of 2016 and they don’t need any more advice from caring community members.
It’s different for parents. It’s a bittersweet time for them. Parents are filled with relief that all those battles over homework and curfews are over. They are proud that their child has fulfilled the requirements of graduation and will make that dramatic entry in his or her cap and gown.
But there is also that looming goodbye—the one that every parent dreads from the time their son or daughter takes his or her first steps, shyly waves goodbye on the way to preschool, or gets behind the steering wheel for the first time. Graduation is a final rite of passage, one that comes all too soon.
It’s impossible that the tiny baby that changed your world could turn into an adult so quickly. It’s hard to believe how fast all those years of teacher conferences, spring concerts, sporting events, and last-minute grade concerns, flew by.
The last few months are the craziest, with the final chaos of invitations and open houses. I think the parents are the ones who need the pat on the back right now.
So, I hope they take a few minutes to sit down and read this column. They need a little time for themselves right now. They need a break between cleaning house for the party and figuring out where visiting relatives will sleep, between buying decorations and calculating how much cake will be eaten. They need a break from concerns about “Plan B” for when it rains. Hopefully this Unorganized Territory gives them a moment of quiet amidst the chaos that comes from planning for graduation.
Truly, it is good that there is a lot to do—it makes the fast-approaching farewell a bit easier for mom and dad. At least until the graduate packs up his or her belongings and leaves them to the empty nest.
For those parents, I’m ending with a longer than usual quote. It was a gift from my mom when my first “baby” graduated in 1997. I’ve shared this Erma Bombeck quote in Unorganized Territory every graduation week. It still makes me tear up when I read it, but I still find comfort in it.
I hope the parents of the Class of 2016 do too.
Children are like kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless – they crash – you add a longer tail – they hit the rooftop – you pluck them out of the spout – you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly!
…Finally they are airborne, but they need more string – you keep letting it out and with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy, because the kite becomes more distant and somehow you know that it won’t be long until that beautiful creature will snap the life line that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar – free and alone.