Friday found me in a large auditorium. Purple seats with no leg room or padding. The Handy Man was at my side, my daughters and parents down the row. This is the day we'd waited for. This was the moment that spurred on our flurry of make-up days and long nights of study. And, yet, it seemed sad, to have it all end. How could the time have gone so quickly? I watched as Jacob made his way into the hall and found his seat in a sea of silver caps and gowns. He didn't look around, there was no triumphant fist-pump as he entered.
Suddenly, I saw my child in a different light. No longer was he the loud and boisterous boy whose laughter carries through the floors and walls of our home. He wasn't the confident Scout, who leads songs and skits without abandon. Here, he was 'school-Jacob', shy and unsure. In a crowd of over 500, he has a handful of friends. The images he's painted for me- lonely school lunchtimes and sitting alone- came crashing in. I cringed at the thought of all those days of loneliness as he watched his peers dance along in their social waltz.
The speakers each took their turn. They wore their academic overachievements as chords and ribbons around their necks. Their names were shouted as they stood at the podium. Their confident smiles said more than their carefully planned words.
Then, they walked. One by one, their names were called. At least in this he would be equal, I thought. But, no. As the jocks and the leaders and the musicians were announced, applause and shouts and airhorns proclaimed their superiority. As Jacob approached, he smiled weakly for the photographer then handed his name card to the announcer. He spoke, Jake walked, and our tiny cheering section clapped and yelled. I prayed that he heard us.
And, then it was over. Thirteen years of daily struggle over in one fell swoop. And, I was grateful. High school is hard. It is a social tar pit, sucking in children and pulling them down. Peers can be kind or unspeakably mean. You either fit in, or are the odd puzzle piece, constantly trying to find your place. Jacob never found it in those gray halls.
But, now, he moves on. Today we will drive him up my favorite canyon. I will roll down the windows and relish the cool mountain breeze that snakes through the green forest. We will drop him off at camp where he will spend his summer teaching scouts to shoot guns and arrows in true cowboy style. He will share stories of faith and loyalty, building up these young men, teaching them that no matter what the world tells them, they each have a place. That just like him, they belong to a brotherhood.
Graduation is a good thing. It is the end, but also a glorious beginning. Here's to beginnings.
And, here's to having two done.
Just 5 more to go. (Crap! I need a nap.)
This post was written for the GBE 2: Blog On prompt "High School".