The Journey Begins

| July 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

It was a rather warm day as I walked with my son to his first born’s graduation. We got to the school a little too late to claim the small piece of shade under the lone tree on campus, but at least we were able to sit close enough to see the graduates as they filed in. I looked around to see all these happy people gathered together to watch as a milestone moment unfolded before them. Balloons spelled out names, congratulatory signs were held high, and everyone was cheering as the students came out of the school to take their seats. It was a sea of mortar boards and gowns all in school colors.

Graduation from high school is a high point in a child’s life and a mixed emotion in a parent. That diploma marks a new relationship between parent and child. This is the stepping stone to independence. For some that first leg begins with college, for others a technical school and for many a jump into the work world. The air was full of anticipation and a feeling of “what’s next?”

When my children graduated it was assumed they would get a job right out of high school or attend college with the feeling that a degree would guarantee an even better job. Not so today. Statistics show that getting a good job with just a high school education is bleak. Yet students graduating from college no longer have that guarantee in place. The course of study is also important. What fields will have job openings? What majors are inconsequential?

My grandson has loved making films for as long as I can remember. He went to a summer camp for filmmakers. He requested film making software for all his birthdays. He knew what he wanted to do from a very young age and he would not be deterred. My son gently brought up the lack of opportunity in that field, noting how few filmmakers really make it. He was met with much resistance as his son believes that he will be one of the few who make it big. The best guidance I could give my son is to let him follow his dream or he will always wonder “what if?” He will always feel he might have made it if his dad had not squelched his dream.

With two children in their teens, my son is feeling like his opinion does not matter anymore. His son just turned 18 and thinks he knows more than dad now. When he joined us after graduation he was all smiles declaring “I have my own car, I just graduated from high school and I turned 18. I am an adult now.”

I kept quiet knowing that he will find out soon that being an adult is much more complicated than that. But at 18 you have the bravado to go out into the world fully confident that you will conquer it. He will learn from experience what works for him and what doesn’t. Often it is failures that teach the most.

I think of what I was like at 18, what my sons were like and what my grandson is feeling, and it confirms my belief that some things are universal. That tenuous journey from child to adult will never change. It is a journey that must be experienced to get to that point of really knowing what an adult is. For now, seeing my grandson heady with the joy of graduating, turning 18 and feeling like an adult, is a lovely sight. He is just beginning the journey that everyone takes to becoming an adult. The future is his to explore, his and all the other 18 year olds. I wish them well.

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