I was doing well…honestly, I was. Then it happened. Across the way, as I sat on the playground watching a group of four-year olds march in line, I saw him. They’d almost made it to the equipment when a little fellow fell over his own feet. Crashing hard, he bounced on his knees across the gravel. Time stopped just for a second before he slowly stood up, brushing at his banged up knees and then hobbled on. It hit me then, hard and fast. My easiness with my son’s graduation was suddenly over. In that moment, I lost it. I couldn’t see the boy’s face, only his tiny body, and suddenly he was my little boy. It’s what would have happened to my child…busted knees, dirty from head to toe, always needing a band-aid. And just like that, it hit me that my boy was no longer little. I couldn’t scoop him up and put him in my lap anymore, and that’s all I wanted to do in that moment.
I cried that afternoon. Hard. I cried again when my hubby got home and I told him about it. I’ve cried a few more times since. And no matter what I try, that child is still in my mind.
So, my youngest is graduating from high school, hence the hysteria over the unknown little fellow. After thirteen years (12 years plus kindergarten), he’s done. One part of me is ecstatic, relieved, thrilled, thankful. The other part of me is losing it a little – maybe a lot.
Honestly, school has never been easy for my boy. His happiest year of school was kindergarten when he was still allowed to be himself. He had a teacher who let him be wild and free, let him still be a horse-loving, laughing little boy. Then the real world set in, and he had to learn to read and sit and be a student. (I train children to be students every year so I know how important it is.) After that, some of the joy in his care-free, little boy eyes began to vanish. School became work, even though he loved his teachers and friends. School became something that was hard for him.
Outside of school, he was still funny and wild. He loved easily and was honest to a fault. He was loud and always needing to change out of filthy clothes into something clean (he still does that today). With each year he became more and more dependable and steady. The wildness slipped away to be replaced by a type of bravery I didn’t know existed. He faced horrible circumstances along the way, and when a lot of children would have begged to never go back to school, he never asked to stay at home…not once.
As a teacher, God sent me a very important lesson. He sent me a child that struggles so I would understand the struggling student. He sent me a child that didn’t make straight A’s so I would appreciate each child for who they are and where they are. We are not all designed to be the smartest in the class, and truthfully, most of us are average…perfectly, wonderfully made just as we are. The world is run by many, many average people who work hard to make up for perhaps a less than top-notch IQ. (Sidebar to all the seniors – never let anyone rank you by a number on a paper. Live by your heart. Live what you love. The box society puts you in only works if you allow it to hold you. If you are strong enough to be yourself and love others, I’m convinced you can do anything in life.) As for me, I’ll take kindness, strength and a giving heart any day of the week.
So why am I sad? I guess because it’s another step on the journey of raising people. Another step away from the best years of my life. Part of me feels like I should be graduating too. Part of me just knows that change is hard.
But why should I be happy? Because so many prayers have been answered. Because I’m proud of both my children just as they are. Because I know with one ending there’s always another beginning.