Tuesday, June 3, 2014

To My Son Upon His Graduation

You did it, my son.  You completed the toughest year of your schooling so far.  You worked hard to succeed, every day, to earn that paper. Your father and I could not be any prouder that you rose to the challenge.  Who knew that kindergarten would be so difficult?

As you prepare for the next adventure in your education, I get the feeling that you might want to rush things.  You've always been in a hurry. I mean, you're already discussing marriage and family with your girlfriend, and there is just no need to rush. First grade will be here before you know it, and I have some wisdom to share. It has been a few years since I was in first grade, but some things you never forget.

1.  Remember where you came from.  When I was five and found wandering all over Ft. Campbell, Lord only knows what would have happened if I hadn't been able to tell the MPs where I lived.  Or maybe my mom took care of that.  I was only five, and I was just happy that the police didn't arrest me for peeing all over their backseat. That story is the reason I will never run for public office. My point is to remember your family--your mom, your dad, your aunties and uncles, and your grandparents, etc. Each family member has a story to share. Be willing to listen. We may be old folks, but we are survivors of life.

2. Don't be a meanie-head. I cannot emphasize this enough. Very few people want to hang out with people who are not nice to them.  Why would they? Would you want to be around a mean kid, who feels entitled to your attention, or a nice kid who is willing to share his bag of Doritos?  Poor behavior will sometimes be tolerated, but not if it is a habit.  So smile. Say please and thank you. Be a good listener. Share. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

3. Try all of the cookies. At least once.  I know that right now you're a boy with his habits firmly in place, and you're fixed on chocolate chip for life.  But the best cookie you've ever tasted in your whole entire life could be out there, and it may not be chocolate chip. It is good to try new things, go to new places, meet new people. Trying new things helps you make better choices, and it is fun. Change can be hard, but it can also be amazing. Don't be afraid.

4. Sometimes life is scary. I wish that I could shelter you from all the scary stuff out there, but I can't. Things happen that your father and I have no control over, and you are just going to have to face whatever is out there too. Thunder will rumble, hurricanes will roll into the coast, and people will get hurt or killed.  I will answer as many of your questions as I can, so you have the knowledge to confront scary events. I will also hug you and hold you when that is not enough. Some days I may ask you to hold me instead!  We will get through the scary together.

5. Do not eat the art materials, no matter how appetizing.  Kids in my day used to spread Elmer' s glue on our skin, our fingernails, etc. We would wait until it dried, then spend hours of class time peeling it off. This was some sort of self simulation, I am sure, but we were six, and there was no higher form of entertainment. Except that some kids liked to be even more rebellious. They would do things, like eat the glue, because they wanted teacher attention. But just because you CÀN do something doesn't make it a good idea. Do not eat the glue, or the paint. Your peers will not appreciate your glue eating as the fine performance art it is; they will call you weird, and avoid you like you have cooties.

I hope that these words have inspired you to rise above the the humdrum, the every day drudgery that school sometimes becomes. You have always been a problem solver, and that strength will carry you far.

At least into the next grade.


  1. Well I for one am inspired! I have been struggling with what kinds of things I need to tell my son as he finishes his junior year of high school. I think you nailed it for me. Oh, but I must ask, is there a sign in here somewhere that I should send you molasses cookies?

  2. OH Tina! Our year has been happening this way too and honestly on hard days I remember that you're out there somewhere dealing with things (Kindergarten, raising a boy, Catholic school) just like I am and it soothes me.

    this is fantastic advice for anyone but especially for your little guy (who isn't so little anymore). I can't believe they are going to be 1st graders. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and wistfulness with us about this year.


  3. oh this was great!!! One day you and your son are going to be roaring with laughter at parts of this (other parts brought tears to my eyes), possibly his High School graduation?

  4. Elmer's glue flashbacks!

  5. Good advice, and I especially liked the glue part, too!

  6. Good sound advice; especially "try all the cookies". I'm a firm believer in that one. I hope you're prepared for the empty nest syndrome that awaits you when he's in school all day! ;)

  7. I love the way you drew me in when I initially thought, "Ugh, another high school graduation story." Loved your humor and insight.

  8. Don't be a meanie-head. Words to live by. Also try all the cookies.

  9. I have always had regrets about certain cookies I passed up.


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