Graduation Season

Published on 7 June 2023 at 21:21

This time of year, I find myself overwhelmed with end-of-school year posts on my social media feeds. Graduation season brings mixed feelings for me, and I know I'm not alone. 

I feel very apathetic about attending graduation ceremonies. Why? I have, as of yesterday, attended eight high school commencements in the past 10 years. They all had several common elements: they are hot, very long, extremely physically uncomfortable and crowded, and overwhelmingly predictable. "Thank you to every person even remotely connected to (learning institution)" rings repeatedly. There are several speeches with trite quotes, and at least one speech will include a Websters Dictionary definition.  Orators will not forget the obligatory advice to "step ahead without fear!" and to re-label failures as 'future successes". 

All of this just to watch an older teen receive a piece of paper that, simply put, is a 13 year Certificate of Attendance. 

How can someone who has such a tender heart for the well-being of children take such a sour stand toward this century old rite of passage? Read on....if you dare!

All seven of my young adult children graduated. Not all seven of them earned a diploma. For at least one of my children, their diploma was their pink slip: public school was showing them the door and basically firing them from high school. This is neither here nor there, because a high school diploma alone is useless for practical existence. No one cares if you graduated, dropped out, or earned your GED. Entry-level jobs pay applicants with all 3 levels of achievement the same wages. 

There are many members of my community who are happy, thriving, and respected societal contributors who did not complete high school. And I fall into this last category: I have an advanced degree and I did not graduate high school. Whether or not I am respected or a contributor to society will be judged by history, I expect. 

Why, then, did I attend high school graduations eight out of the past 10 years? Because it marks a time of transition, and I have observed that many people do not handle change well.  Let's call these people "parents". I can speak about this demographic because I am one. Generally speaking, parents are emotional about their child's graduation. Of course, any parent would and should be proud. But many are sad and view graduation as the end of childhood. 

Personally, when each of my children graduated, it was a beginning. The beginning of a new type of parent-child relationship. It was, and still is, a difficult transition, but by far a very rewarding one. It is amazing to see how God can take a child, gift it to very flawed, very human parents, and transform that child into a young adult that possesses qualities and abilities beyond those of their parents and teachers. Our kids grow up in spite of us, and the miracle of the incredible creations that our children truly are is evidenced in the plan we get to see unfold before our very eyes. 

Graduation is a ceremony for parents, by parents. Take your eyes off the pomp and circumstance and see the promise of a beautiful future beginning to bloom right in front of you. I'm speaking from experience. Take this season for what it is - just a season - and know the best is yet to come!

Congratulations 2023 graduates and their parents, here's to new beginnings!

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