My son graduates from high school tonight. He has been at the same school for the past thirteen years...yet has actually completed fourteen years of school as of tonight. He was born in June, and it is the customary practice here (although not everyone follows this) to "hold back" the boys in kindergarten so that they they have a little extra time to mature on the front end. We followed this advice (although he was academically ready to start school)...and this choice landed him in a great group of kids that comprise the Class of 2011. We've never regretted that decision.
Especially tonight. We had him at home for an extra year...and he will start college at the ripe old age of 19. Assuming that Jill remains on course and graduates on time as projected, she and Brian will only overlap in college for one year. Because he has chosen to begin his college career at a local institution of higher learning and earned a scholarship that will cover the expenses that the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) program will not, he is essentially financing his own education next year and will have no student loans. He could have chosen to leave home, but he thought of what was best for him...which also turns out to be best for our family as a whole.
Today I am thinking of the surprise pregnancy, how easy he was as a baby, and how little attention he has demanded all of these years. He has not had the easiest breaks, but he rarely, if ever, complains. He's funny, and wise, and extremely intelligent. He is the kind of solid person that you hope that your daughters date and your sons befriend. He's not the kind that will lead them down any path that is unhealthy, but is the kind that would stand with them in difficulty. He somehow manages to handle whatever life throws at him with patience and grace.
And he's had a lot thrown at him over the past four years. He has had to manage a health issue that robbed him of a lot of the things that a lot of high school kids take for granted. Friends that he knew from the early years moved on into sports and he was left with trying to cobble something productive out of the remaining activities that were left. He ended up settling for working on the Science Olympiad team and the sound and lighting crew for school productions. He excelled at both.
I don't know what the next four (or five as he is looking at Engineering) years will bring. He may get into college and find that he can rise to the challenge of making extremely high grades...or he may choose to just coast through. I can see either of these happening. But my hope for him is that he pushes himself to achieve more than even he thinks is possible. He has the temperament, the ability, and the interpersonal skills to do something fairly amazing with his life as measured by earthly standards. We just have to convince him that this is true. But even more important is my knowledge that he will do amazing things for God out there in the big world.
But today, he will walk across the stage to conclude this chapter in his life. His family will be watching and applauding this milestone in his life. We will be sitting in pews that I sat in when I was expecting him nearly twenty years ago. He was christened as we stood beside the steps that he will walk down tonight with his diploma in hand and a huge smile on his face. It is also where he was confirmed into the church as a sixth grader along with several of his classmates. Yes, graduation is held in our church because the sanctuary can handle the number of guests that these sixty-seven graduates will invite. It will be quite a crowd.
After graduation, we will go to the fellowship hall for the graduation reception. A year ago, I was a co-chairman for this event. We were working hard to provide the Class of 2010 what the Class of 2012 will do for us tonight. I can hardly believe that it has already been a year. Time flies.
I am immensely proud of my boy today...but can hardly believe that the little guy that was a blond blur has morphed into the young man that he is today. He's still the messy kid he was at five...when I put him in his room one afternoon to clean it...and went back later to check his progress only to find that it was even worse. He didn't complain about the confinement...he made the most of it. When I went back in...he looked at me and said "Hi Mommy!" I think it was on that day that I just gave up hope that he'd ever be organized in the classic sense.
But tonight he's walking the stage...and we're spending some time this afternoon getting him ready for a graduation trip to France. He's going with the French teacher at his school, another chaperone, and twelve other students. Should be fun.
So, here we are. We look forward to many more milestones to celebrate. We hope that you do beautifully in college...and find your vocation and some great friends there. You are an amazing young man, and I'm proud and so honored to be your Mom. You have been a living, breathing testament to my understanding that God loves me. After all, He gave you to us to raise.
Congratulations, Brian. Enjoy this time in your life and make the most of it. I love you.