Monday, May 18, 2015

Graduation: Clark 2015

Graduation for Clark is in the books. Whew! Seems like it's been a year of Clark just waiting for this day. He says he is so ready for college.

I may need to flag this post and remind him of this one day...because high school? For all the drama and the long days and the homework and the kids and the fun and the sad and the insecurities and everything else really is easier part of life, am I right?

And, don't get me wrong. There are things that are done and said, and tragic or monumental or historical events, that happen during your high school years. It's just that, when I was in high school, I thought it was SO HARD. Everything was SO HARD. Life was SO HARD.

And then I gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome.
And then I sat in a hospital room with another child, and received his cancer diagnosis.
And then I lost my mom.
And then I realized what was SO HARD.

But, I didn't just LOVE high school. I didn't just LOVE college. I DO love my real life...the hard parts and the scary parts and the fun parts. High School...looking back from my vantage point...was a breeze.

The hardest part of any big milestone in a child's life, is figuring out space and time and ALL THE PEOPLE. Because lots of friends and family want to come and celebrate your child. And, of course, everyone is welcome...but e'erbody gotta eat.


And where is that going to take place?

With our older three, we had a casual little get-together at our home after or before graduation...and that was really nice. And that will work if your family lives close, or if your graduation is in your town.

For us, since Clark had 597 graduating seniors in his class, our graduation ceremonies were held 35 minutes away at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. Which, that place is great for a crowd. Or if it rains. Where we lived when my older two graduated, everyone could come to graduation UNLESS IT RAINED. If it rained, and they had to move the ceremony indoors, you were given "tickets" and only a certain number from each family could come. This was especially fun for the ones whose family had to take a plane to get there, only to be told there weren't enough tickets.

Clark's girlfriend's mom told me that when graduation was over for her daughters, she was about ready to slap somebody. I was, like, "okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...let me move away from you."

She meant that because it is a stressful time. There is so much going on and you are trying to rush and you have a big group of people with you and everyone wants to sit together and not everyone gets there at the same time and there's almost a fight over the two seats on the row behind you that you've saved and some little kids are kicking the backs of your seats and people are screaming at the top of their lungs so loud when their child's name is called that you can't hear the next person's name called and this one is tired of sitting and that one is tired of walking and she's hot or he's cold and EVERYONE wants to know "where are we gonna eat when this is over?"

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I want to lay a couple of things on ya. Learn from me, young Padawans...from my mistakes and from my experiences:

First, Clark did graduate and it was amazing and wonderful, and we were so thankful to have family and friends who supported us with their presence. And we had many family members and friends who were supporting us "in spirit," with their prayers. We appreciated all of them. He would've graduated if there had been 1 person there, or if his shoe-laces broke, or if he'd gotten a brand, new car (he didn't), or if he didn't; if he'd spilled something on his pants, or his shirt, or his tie...or if he'd had a big graduation celebration...or if he hadn't.

Sometimes we make big things out of nothing.

Also, at a graduation, wedding, shower, baptism, or other major life-event, you, as a parent, cannot do it all. You can't DO it all, you can't SEE it all, you can't PLAN it all. You just can't. Keep things simple, delegate what you can, and try to enjoy the moment. We were fortunate to have several people who took pictures, so we got different angles and all of that, but let's face it: in an arena like where we were, unless you have a ginormous lens like a legit-type of photographer has, your kid will be a blurry image in blue. Don't believe me, just look at my Facebook page. Pictures are mainly for afterwards.

Designate a place for everyone to meet after your "thing" is over. Because Aunt Sue might see a friend she wants to talk to, and Uncle Bill has to potty, and people just scatter. If they want to be in the pictures, tell them where to meet. We kind of all got separated, and when I called to see where everyone was, they said, "under the Miller-Lite sign."

Allllllllllllrighty then.

And finally, for now: don't let your child's accomplishments become YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. They are not yours. If your kid got them, he earned them (Or he cheated to get them, and that's a whole' nother deal I'm not even going to get into). It does not mean the honor kids are geniuses. It does not mean YOU are a genius. They might be, and you might be. But come on down with the rest of us for just a second.

When my older two kids graduated, you got a "cord" for everything you were in, like, Spanish honorary, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club. There were kids who had several cords around their necks. My child included. But I'd also had a child graduate the year before, my Joshua, who got through school the best way he could. His celebration was no less important or monumental. And you just don't always know everyone's story...whether they had a learning disability and just did the best they could; or if they were really smart, but just didn't apply themselves; or if they had to work super-hard to get their degree.

Clark did graduate with honors because HE worked hard and HE pushed himself to achieve. Granted, I think he has a natural love of learning, and that really helps. He is interested in things and people and places. We have not ever pushed Clark like we did with Holly and Logan...probably because we learned our lesson watching them and their friends: that it was not about us...and that just because you graduated with a cord around your neck doesn't necessarily mean you will do well in college. Or in life.

Likewise, if your kid did NOT graduate with honors, it doesn't mean they are a dunce. Or, as Joshua used to pronounce it, a "DUNK." It doesn't mean YOU are, either. It does not determine the course of their lives, because I can attest to the fact that many of the ones I know who have graduated "with honors," and many of those who did not...have turned into loving, kind, responsible adults.

The same goes if your child is a star athlete. It's easy when your child is getting accolades and attention that it's all (or partially) due to you and your gene pool, or your work-ethic or the lessons and coaches and camps you took them to for years. It might be...but it's THEIR honor, and I will just tell you that if you put all of your eggs in that basket and don't work on the things that will actually get them through life, like character, integrity, kindness, compassion for others, a love for service, their relationship with Jesus...your child is going to struggle when their "ability" fails them. And it will. Age and injury come to all of us, and no one can be the best forever. A kid can go from hero to zero in just one play.

Trust me on this.

All 4 of our kids played sports. One is a Special Olympian, and one has a natural "bent" for pretty much all athletics he tried. The other two are really good at certain sports, but they had to work a lot harder at it than the one who came by it naturally.

Did y'all see the commencement speech from George W. Bush that's been on repeat the past few years? Where he says, and I'm paraphrasing because I'm too lazy to look it up, "to all of the ones who graduated with honors, I want to say 'well done,' And to all of those who graduated with a 'C' average, I want to say that you, too, can become President one day."

It's true.

"In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well..." Romans 12:6

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