Tassel Time and Transition
Graduation! Tassel time and transition has come again. It’s that time of the year when we as parents scramble to find our boys that one lost pair of dress shoes (that you know must be in the laundry room), or some khaki’s that are still wearable. As we check to see if the one button down shirt he still has from Christmas, might be in a pile under his bed. And for those of us with daughters... us fathers endure as they preen about if the dress they picked out for graduation works for them? Their anxiety grows until the very last second as they consider over and over with whoever will listen to them, if it’s o.k. to wear or if it’s TOO dressy or NOT dressy enough for the occasion. Arrgh! If you're a parent of a soon to be graduate, this is your blog for today.
Digital camera’s at the ready, hundreds of mom’s, dad’s, grandparents and siblings will be rushing off to sweat in a gym while wondering if their backs can really hold them erect on wooden bleachers long enough to capture the moment on the platform. It can be a crazy time, marked by mad dashes and minivan races to get everyone there on time.
Life comes at us FAST, it feels like its moving at an ever-increasing pace and if we’re not careful it may blow right by without us having the time to mark this cherished moment forever and ever… I mean how often do they graduate from pre-school, RIGHT ?
EASY, JUST KIDDING..!
My youngest child finished up eighth grade yesterday, my oldest is a junior…sorry, now senior in High School. I’ve attended probably nearly a dozen graduation events over the last seventeen years with my three children and my twin nieces,nephew etc.. sat uncomfortably as they all navigated their educational courses of life to the elevated platform of paper and pride (Diploma). Along the way I’ve watched as they matured and learned and gained valuable and sometimes painful lessons from both their teachers and their peers. Graduations it seems are mostly uncomfortable, hot-humid affairs in the mid-south, with bustling and tussling and excited nervous masses of “not-going- to-miss- this- moment” mom’s rushing at you from every corner with a camera and a set smile. They will be crowded, loud and an agonizing mix of excitement and boredom followed by too much food. So Enjoy !
Confession, this year we skipped a junior high graduation in our family for the first time. Gasp! I know. I thought my wife would get really upset, but last night with my son we did, and the world didn't stop. His older sisters were excited for him so they made a fun ceremony of it in our basement. They put on their own graduation party for their little brother (who is actually taller than both of them now) complete with balloons, streamers and his favorite take out Chinese food, cards, gifts and mountain dew!
When the dust cleared my son and I went up to our bonus room and played a shooter game on the Playstation 3 for two hours (Yes, fellow dads…he waxed me every time) and we had a blast. As we enjoyed our laid back graduation evening, I WAS AWARE. I noticed that my boy was becoming a man, and I saw the changes in him already gained and the ones yet to come. I marked that moment in my mind as significant and IT DID NOT PASS ME BY. I spent an evening focused on him.
Last night was really about grabbing that moment in whatever way would connect with my son, in a way that he would appreciate and remember. Of taking the time to note that he had completed well what he had begun four years earlier and that he had survived the trauma of junior high intact. His leaving the equivalent of an adolescent hades and preparing to enter high school, was a moment of triumph in a far different way than academics. He had learned to endure and grow and contend for things that were new, difficult or uncomfortable, but he had done so with courage and strength.
It was for that accomplishment I sensed the need to celebrate. To congratulate my son for being the guy God created him to be, for not caving in to his peers and surrendering his identity for popularity like so many do in junior high. My son is not a fan of parties, he hates large gatherings and public ceremonies, He loves Coldplay and his keyboard, and take out food. He avoids crowds and loves to stay close to home. Our celebration of HIM needed to reflect that. Not my or his mother’s idea of how it should be. Not like we did the previous two eighth grade graduations in our house ahead of him…but in a way that says we cherish him for being him. My son is awesome, and despite his honors studies and amazing intellect, he is not keen on graduations, at least not yet. (authors note; your high school graduation will be a much different situation Caleb …if you're reading this
To wrap this up… We all know that a graduation is a season of transition that is full of bittersweet memories and future hopes and fears. It’s a moment of reflection for all of us who have a child finishing up one period of their lives only to begin again. My encouragement, mark the season well, engage fully during these milestone moments with your kids and disengage from your work, your distractions and your urgency to be somewhere. Live intentionally. Skip the sermons, avoid life lesson talks in the moment, just enjoy your child's graduation transition and celebrate them and remember it well.
If this is happening now in your world, get the card, get the flowers, buy the watch…but PLEASE DON’T MISS THE MOMENT.
“God, help us as parents to slow down and see our kids this graduation season. Help us to be aware and sensitive to who they are, and where they are emotionally and spiritually and to sense what they still need to learn about real life. God, give us the courage to speak into their lives with words of hope, and healing and comfort and encouragement. Help us to lead in the moments they are following and enable us to communicate the painful truths of our lives to them in a way that will not burden them with our own regrets. Lord, reveal your ways and your heart to our kids through us as we seek to keep them on the road and in between the lines of life! Amen.”