My oldest son is graduating from high school tomorrow. As parents with no prior experience in this area we were unprepared for all the "stuff" that goes with this--extra trips to the school for rehearsals, more special ceremonies than I thought possible, and unexpected exit requirements. Specifically proof of all of his community service so they could (in good conscience) allow him to wear the National Honors Society tassels at the Baccalaureate ceremony. Because he's was inducted into NHS three months ago, we all assumed he'd met all the requirements. Apparently the teacher in charge of this either changed her mind or didn't read the requirements closely until just this week. Good thing the kid went on mission trips, helped with the church commodity programs, and volunteered as a camp counselor for three summers. As they broke the news to him on the afternoon of the ceremony, we spent the afternoon tracking down someone who could write him a letter of reference. Then we still make it in time for the ceremony so he wouldn't earn the ire of the principal who'd threatened the kids with not being able to walk down the aisle if they were late.
Neither was I prepared for the powerful feelings which go with this phase of life. I can't be old enough to have a kid graduating from high school, can I? He isn't old enough is he? What do you mean it's over with? What's this business about him leaving home? No. I can't be time for that. Not yet.
But it appears that it is exactly that time and it is at once overwhelmingly sad and exhilarating. The sense of a job well-done and monstrous fears intermingle. He is so young and he thinks he knows it all and he doesn't. One minute I'm sure everything is fine and the next he says or does something that demonstrates otherwise. But he's far more together than either Gary or I were at that age--in part because he's who he is and in part because we're fairly hands-on parents. I believe we've all done our best and I believe he'll be fine in the long run.
It should be a nice graduation ceremony. His grandparents will be there (well, his mother and mine. Both grandfathers live too far away). He's playing guitar and singing with the show choir so they'll be able to see him in his element. We'll take lots of pictures and probably cry. He'll get his diploma and we'll be the noisiest group in the crowd. All the students will get to throw their caps in the air (I remember when they tried to tell us NOT to do this when we graduated and we did it anyway). He and his friends will hug and exchange promises to stay in touch. He'll bask in a well earned feeling of pride and completion.
Then his father and I go will home with a son who's graduated from high school, taking comfort in the fact that there are still three more to go so it's hardly over yet. But I'll continue to be plagued by the feeling that life is moving far, far too fast.