Graduation comes much too soon

Memories of buzz cuts, band camp, and flour mountains. Where did the time go?

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When your firstborn goes off to kindergarten for the first time, you don't think about learner's permits, SATs, and graduations.

As you watch him slip through the door marked Room 12, the mystical portal that leads to his entire future, his too-big backpack gently thumping his back, you wonder: Will he make new friends? Will he like his teacher? Will he make it though the day without missing me too much? And should I have packed more than one peanut-butter sandwich?

You have no way of knowing that soon you'll be able to recite Dr. Seuss in your sleep, learn 101 uses for an empty toilet paper roll, and discover that mountains made out of flour and salt will never dry if you paint them first.

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You'll see him go from a little boy's haircut of neat curls smoothly parted on the side, to a mullet (all business in front and party in the back), to a spiky super-glued do, and finally, to every mother's lament, the buzz cut.

You'll make pioneer costumes for him, whoop and holler when he's named Student of the Month, videotape the big yellow bus leaving for fifth-grade camp, and hold your breath as he marches backward across the football field while playing his saxophone.

And along the way you'll pray - a lot. Among your prayers: that he doesn't get his heart broken, does well on tests, and doesn't trip and fall during a marching competition.

Then one day it happens. When you hug him, your cheek meets his chest. Driving in the car, you realize he's the one behind the wheel, not you.

And before your emotions can catch up with the seamless fast-forwarding of time that has placed you there, you'll find yourself seated upon a white folding chair on the university lawn, shielding your eyes from the bright noonday sun with a copy of his graduation program.

While you palm three soggy wads of tissues as you anxiously wait for his name to be called, your mind will journey back to Room 12, and you'll whisper a familiar prayer: that he continues to make new friends, doesn't trip when he goes on stage, and that you can make it through each day without missing him too much.

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