Middle school graduation, not as traumatic as high school ceremonies, not as ridiculous as pre-school or kindergarden graduations, but a rite of passage. I sat surveying the HS gym, watching students go up for awards, listening to speeches I imagined being repeated in schools and grade levels around the country, perhaps almost simultaneously spoken words being said. Girls wore their summer dresses under the hideous polyester blue gowns (no hats or tassels to throw up or move), boys in clunky shoes and khakis, parents with flowers and balloons, most dressed for the occasion.
It was a reasonable event to honor the almost 400 students, most of whom are moving to this very school we were seated in, in three short months. They will be the rookies again, another passage that repeats in high school, college, a new neighborhood where you move and know no one, a new job–being that kid who doesn’t know the ropes, the shortcuts, and learns by observing and asking and imitating.
Earlier in the day, the thought of that graduation was overwhelming, that I would have a high school student soon–and all the perils and trials and joys that can bring. But watching the kids during the ceremony, I knew that they were ready to move on to the bigger school, having earned more freedom to choose their paths, find their way, and grow yet again.
I looked down at my Tara, my oldest babe too big to sleep on my chest or burp or tell how to dress, but I am so proud of who she has become, having moved schools in the dreaded 5th grade, making close friends, having academic and athletic success, and then seeing who she is growing into, wondering what the next four years will bring.
There will be success and hard work and mistakes as she learns to become and adult. But hopefully we will be back in another four years as she finishes high school and gets ready to leave home for college (not ready for that yet!).