Great Divide to adulthood
For the high schoolers in particular, beyond the academic achievement itself, no small feat, this is one of those gates to new life. This is the Great Divide to adulthood. The apex is the moment the grads toss their mortar boards in the air.
This moment also is a gateway for the fresh-faced graduates’ parents, and helps explain the furious family camera work, moms’ tears and dads suddenly blinking very rapidly.
Junior may stay at home awhile longer yet, but something has changed for good. Childhood is over, and this is huge for parents and offspring alike. Sooner now, rather than later, the grad in the house will pass those other gates: marriage, children, and eventually their own kids tossing mortar boards into the air.
We’re fortunate to live in a place where high school graduation is a rite for nearly all of us, generation to generation now.
In much of the rest of the world, this is not nearly so automatic. And in places like Afghanistan and Kashmir, education can seem far off compared to the daily accomplishment of staying alive.
Our fears are wonderfully pedestrian by comparison. The grads are understandably anxious about finding their way in the “real” world. For most, that would be the time of their young lives in college.
The excitement that comes with a clean slate, starting over in a new life, is palpable as well. The grads can’t know the friends they will make in the future, their minds naturally on the friends they may no longer see quite so often as the class of 2002 scatters to the wind. There’s a lot to think about, certainly, as happens at such forks in our lives.
Our best advice? Nothing so profound as the graduates and their families will hear during the ceremonies. Just simply savor these precious moments. Take it all in. Enjoy yourself. The tests and challenges ahead are all waiting – and they can keep.
They will come racing toward you soon enough.
And practically tomorrow – as it will seem when the time comes – and if you are fortunate, your own children will step across the same portal.
That’s when you finally and fully will understand why your mother is crying in her mixture of joy and some sorrow today.