Ah, bands playing pomp and circumstance, caps, gowns, tassels and diplomas. Sitting on bleachers feeling your butt go numb and praying if the speakers’ speech is long, let it at least be entertaining.
I watched one of my son’s best friends graduate a couple of weekends ago from Gonzaga and I felt like I do every time I go to a similar ceremony. Incredibly proud. You witness thousands of kids sitting in chairs on a stadium floor and can’t help but be excited for them and the future. Each one represents a million hours of studying, gaining life experiences (good and bad), stressing out about debt, grades, and acceptance. You may be able to muddle your way through but you can’t get around the fact that to obtain a college degree requires some, if not a lot of hard work, dedication, and unwillingness to ultimately quit. You hear names called and even though you’re there for one specific person, you hear the support of that individual cheer loudly for their graduate. And another human being begins their dream of making the future into a reality.
I truly love it!
I remember the first time my daughter said she wanted to attend Eastern Washington University (EWU). It was about 2,370 days ago. Why do I remember that? Because she also told me she didn’t want to play basketball in college. Nevermind that she had very nice scholarship offers to other schools. I remember thinking she was making a huge mistake. Afterall, we’d all been working towards that goal since she was in the third grade. Countless high school dramas and tears later (kids + competition + parents, always = disaster), now she wanted to go in a different direction. Okay, brush it off, this is her dream, not yours.
She started school and decided to try everything. She rushed and was accepted into the Alpha Omicron Pi, Tau Gamma sorority family. It was here that she learned what true friendship and community were all about. It was the first time I realized my daughter had really grown up and was capable of making remarkable, well thought out decisions that would ultimately have a positive sustaining effect on her life. That began six years ago.
When my son graduated from high school, he wanted to become a pilot. He would create schematics when he was three years old. Real true schematics of race cars or other machinery, including airplanes. His love for airplanes and flying were absolute. He was accepted into Central Washington University and wanted to matriculate their flight program. Then he went through the physical. He has ADHD and requires medication to concentrate on school. No big deal, many kids suffer from this and like any other medical condition can require medication. To still his mind and concentrate when taking tests and studying. However, this fact made it so my son couldn’t realize his dream. They said he’d have to be off his medication to be in the program. However, to be able to concentrate to make it through the program, he needed the medication. It was really hard on him and though I understand the caution on the part of the industry and school, I can’t help but think they lose fantastic and worthy applicants with their inequity. However, I digress and now step off my soapbox.
He made the decision to also go to EWU instead. He started school, rushed and was accepted into the Sigma Nu, Theta Lambda fraternity. He too has thrived at the university. Always a carefree kid, his favorite line is, “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly.” And somehow he always manages to do that, as impossible as it may be. He loves to have fun, all kinds of fun but now he was placed in roles of importance, where he had to sink or swim. He led, and proved to himself and others, he was good at it. Having the freedom, away from parents, to figure out who he is and what he wants. That began four years ago.
Then there was his sister. The relationship that strengthened between the two of them is now forever unbreakable. The fact that they had each other at their home away from home, for four years, must have brought that small measure of security when at times I’m sure they needed it most. In that time they’ve created friendships with a beautiful array of spectacular, interesting and diverse people. They’ve created family members from their Greek lives, clubs and nights out. Experienced and participated in countless football, hockey, and other games and sports. Experienced what it’s like to live with other people and their different backgrounds, piles of homework, organization and making financial decisions. But they’ve also had each other. In October, when the Vegas shooting happened, they were together. We obviously couldn’t constantly be with them these past eight months, and they’ve made it through an incredibly tough academic year, together and both done it on the dean’s list.
It’s been interesting watching how life was “expected” to go. Whether good or bad, hard or easy. Watching everything fall out, yet into place and the kids turn into the confident, intelligent, interesting, dynamic and beautiful people they are has been nothing short of inspiring. Realizing all the ridiculous things we used to worry about (a lesson also taught by Vegas), were so incredibly stupid and a true waste of time. I know every parent thinks their kids are the best creatures on the planet. I’ve always known, understood and completely accepted the strengths and also the weaknesses of my children and make no apology or have any regret for the decisions they’ve made because it’s brought them to this point.
A point where on June 16th, they both graduate from EWU in the same ceremony. Paisley with a Masters in Business Degree (last year she received her Health Services Administration Degree) and Charlie with his Communication Studies Degree. From high school and college, they’ve made so many friends. All of which I’m so proud and honored to know. These individuals have already or will be graduating with a broad spectrum of degrees and give me so much hope for our future. I’m a very proud mama and can’t wait to see what they choose next, now that their education career is finally complete.
If you have a child graduating this year my very sincere congratulations to them and your entire family.