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Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

It’s graduation time for so many kids. It’s time for pomp and circumstance. For many, this is their last rodeo. They won’t be going on to college, get their Master’s, Ph.D., or become a Medical Doctor! This is the end of the road for them, and they are now (or have been) adulting!

My 14-year-old daughter just graduated middle school. Had we been in New Jersey and there was no coronavirus, they would have had a cap and gown ceremony. Since we moved to North Carolina, it was going to be nothing fancy. No cap and gown, just something after school where they call their names. We didn’t get that or the cap and gown. I’d like to think we actually got something better, a drive through ceremony full of excitement!

It happened all so fast even though my overly cautious aunt drove so I could film. We pulled into the school and were greeted by a teacher cheering for our daughter. Then we kept on the path to the next station. It was several teachers who were also coaches to collect uniforms and distribute team pictures. We had nothing to give or get, but Carissa was still cheered on and greeted with music, shouts of congratulations, jumping, and pom pom waving! Next we drove to the BIG station. It was a bigger line of different teachers and the principal cheering, shouting congratulations, arms waving and clapping, jumping, and tears. They had music playing loudly, balloons, and signs. It’s where her 8th grade teachers were waiting proudly ready to send her off to high school. For us, it was extra special because her father was her 8th grade ELA teacher. He was able to hold the picture frame up against the car and take an actual picture with her. They gave her a bag with her yearbook, her graduation certificate, and the contents of her locker. Then we were waved off to the next stop where more teachers waited to collect library and chrome books. And THAT was graduation!

In all my excitement, I forgot to stop and take pictures, so later that day we went back to the school when all the classes had graduated, and we took several shots with the school sign, the banners, and her teachers. It was a moment that we were super fortunate to have because no one else had special pictures with their teachers!

Carissa is headed to High School. It will be quite a new adventure for her. I know that she is filled with angst. It’s a bigger school, and she is just a little fish in a big pond over there. She is worried about friends more now than ever because we moved last year and has only a handful. I had to explain that she will make more, and that she won’t need a whole heck of a lot because you don’t need many to have true friends. Honestly, she talks to her friends from New Jersey more than her friends here in North Carolina!

I am excited to see what her future holds. I am excited to see what the future holds for all of my children. They are shaping up to be very kind and compassionate humans who want to do big things in the world. Carissa goes back and forth between becoming a chef/baker or a teacher. George wants to be a big time gamer and inventor (of what I don’t know), Charlie wants to work at Disney as an imaginer, and Christian, well he’s 4 and he doesn’t quite know what snack he wants to have today!

The point is that our children grow to be their own person. Our job is to just do our best, teach them right from wrong, teach them to love everyone, to be compassionate, to teach them that there isn’t one way to do things, that not everything is black and white, there is grey, that not everything that they read or see will be the truth, and that they need to listen to their heart, and pray a whole lot.

My hope for my children is that they learn all of these things, and that they go out into the world better and become something better than what I could have ever dreamt of. I want them to always remember this quote by Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

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