A friend of mine said something profound the other day that perfectly summed up my weepy sense of wonder as we approached the day of my son’s high school graduation, “High school humbles parents.”
If you have a child that has made it through four years of high school and marches down the aisle healthy and happy, you understand what that means. You are nothing but grateful that your son or daughter has made it to that day in one piece, emotionally and physically. The nonsense of where they are going to college or what their SATs scores are means nothing compared to the fact that they are there, simply there, to walk across the stage and grab that diploma.
What happens over the course of four years in high school is that the issues kids face get increasing more serious, the consequences much more dramatic. The bad grades or friendship flare-ups of middle school evolve into reckless driving, underage drinking, drug usage, cutting, overdoses, cheating, eating disorders, pregnancies, mental health breakdowns, even suicide. Things gets deadly serious without warning. If you think it won’t happen to your child or doesn’t happen at your kid’s school, then you are absolutely wrong. These four years are so volatile, filled with anxiety, even for “good” kids with “good” parents. ( Aren’t we all?) I’ve had multiple conversations with my son about every single one of the aforementioned subjects, serious conversations with serious recourse.
So that’s why this weekend, in addition to tremendous joy, I felt tremendous humility. I’m so grateful I was able to watch my son graduate from high school. Hopefully, this isn’t his greatest accomplishment in life, but one that means the world to me right now. As parents, we can cruise into high school thinking we got it covered. We’ve been there, right? And our kid is great, at least in middle school. But I can tell you, there’s no comparing going through high school as a self-absorbed teen versus going through high school as the parent. Being the parent is infinitely tougher, because the control is lost. All it takes is one bad night, one awful incident to get the wind knocked out of us. To put us on our knees. To humble us.
I teared up when Pomp & Circumstance started and I whooped it up ( when instructed!) as the parents gave their boys a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony. In between, I smiled ear to ear, for every boy who walked across the stage. And for every parent who made it, too.
Embracing my Chaos, Lian