Some people need a little more time than others.
This time of year can bring forth a maelstrom of emotions and pure chaos for parents of teens and young adults. So many things are crammed into the space of a little over a month. Prom, confirmation, graduation and the whirlwind of extras that go with them, along with the spring play, concerts and other performances come to mind. My family recently dealt with three such events over the course of 24 hours. Can't the powers find a way to split these things up just a little more? Are they deliberately testing this parent's emotional stability and physical stamina?
OK, so one of those events did not technically involve family, but since her birth to BFF 30 years ago, a certain college graduate who also happens to be my Godchild has felt more like my niece. A full 10 years older than my oldest – yes, she did a lot of babysitting for me – C.B. was the first baby/toddler/tween/teen I really got to know. When she was a baby, her mother and I were shopping at a mall when she went to get her hair done, so I gladly took the adorable little redhead with to various stores. As we strolled around, people commented on what a beautiful baby I had. My response? "Why, thank you." I chuckled inside when they said she looked just like me.
C.B. was a big part of my life, even when the family moved 30 miles away. They still visited Crookston often and I stayed with them a couple of times as well. I was ecstatic when BFF, her hubby, C.B. and her little brother moved back to town, though, so we could spend a lot more time together.
Her mother and I often joked that she could have been mine, as we had a lot of similarities. Like me, she was quite picky about her guys and didn't really seriously date anyone until she was a little older (as in out of high school). In fact, we coincidentally chose to marry at the ripe old age of 30. C.B. and I also went through similar emotional struggles that sometimes brought us down into the throes of despair, but we both managed to overcome these dark times and become better persons for it.
Then there's the academic life. Much like me, C.B. had a spotty record in college, making a few failed attempts at it before getting truly serious. Once we buckled down, though, we did very well, becoming active in campus clubs and consistently making the honors lists.
We've really seen a change in this girl over the last few years, maturing into a fine young woman and taking responsibility for her life. She's managed to hold down a job and internships while also attending college full time and maintaining a healthy social life as well. This gal also managed to so thoroughly wow the socks off one of her interviewers for a potential job that a position was tailor-made for her.
Now, that's what I call impressive.
Watching her walk across the stage and accept her diploma at the U of M, Crookston that Saturday brought back memories of seeing the same thing 12 years earlier, only that time for her high school diploma. I felt like one proud mama, and it took me back to two years ago when my own daughter walked across that stage.
That Saturday last week also brought forth memories of my own UMC commencement exercises in 1991, back when it was still a two-year college and I received an associate's degree. This was a big accomplishment for me, as it took three separate attendance stints to get to that point. It was a much smaller graduating class than the university has these days, but rather cozy. I probably knew about 75 percent of my fellow grads.
Classes were small enough so that the ceremonies could be held right on the mall. Now, what could be sweeter than celebrating your high achievements under the sun in the open air? Well, a couple of things come to mind: a little bit cooler temp and less wind – a lot less wind.
As we lined up in Lysaker Gym and made the procession down the mall, I proudly wore my mortarboard and tassel a decade after donning my previous grad garb and a few months after my '81 tassel hanging from my rearview mirror had finally disintegrated. Then, halfway up to my destination, there they went flying, cap and tassel. Needless to say, I was quite embarrassed at holding up the movement of the line while running after my stubborn cap that seemed to be one step ahead of me. Someone was finally able to stop it right before it hit the street.
The red on my face subsided just in time to turn back for my turn walking across the stage.
C.B. and I are perfect case studies for why high school graduates should not automatically jump into college after completing a 12-year stint through elementary and secondary education. Many high school seniors are ready to delve into a more advanced education – PSEO students even more so – as soon as they walk out those doors. That's great; we need them to keep up that momentum. But there will always be those who take a little longer to figure out what they want to do when they grow up and how to get to that point. And they're just as capable of setting the world on fire.