Thursday Thoughts – Graduation

I can’t stand commencement ceremonies. They’re long, they’re boring, the President never speaks at the ceremonies I’m involved with, and you’re too far away to see the person you know cross the stage.

I went to my own high school commencement because it was my first one. I went to my college commencement because I had family in from out of state. I blew off commencement when I earned my masters degree.

My wife was a little upset, but it didn’t change my mind. I told her that the next time I go to a commencement ceremony, it would be for her (pointing at my then 3-year-old daughter).

That day has arrived.

High school graduation is a huge day for both the child and the parent. For my eldest, it’s even bigger because her 18th birthday is on Memorial Day this year. It’s a 5-day span with huge implications and the beginning of a lot of change in all our lives.

No more fighting over whether to hang out with her friends or do her homework. That’s all on her now. No more ‘because I said so,’ because on Monday, she will legally be an adult. It becomes the ‘as long as you are living in my house and want to use my car’ arguments instead.

As the parent this time around, I see why some are controlling even after the kid turns 18. An 18-year-old is not emotionally mature. They make a lot of wrong choices, and hurt themselves in the process. They still know more than the parents, and that won’t change for a few years. But you have to let them make those mistakes so they can mature.

In the eyes of an 18-year-old, parents are still antagonists who prevent you from doing what you want to do. Age 25 is really when a child start becoming friends with their parents.

But graduation is still a milestone, one that is necessary. When you’re 18, the high school scene has been old for a long time, living at home has been old for a long time, so it really is a benchmark for change because now change happens.

My daughter will be at Arizona State University in the Barrett Honors College come August. She earned some very nice scholarships. If there is one message I want to get through to that 18-year-old head, it’s this: “Don’t screw the opportunity up.”

I don’t think she will, but at the same time, she will get a big dose of reality when she moves down to Tempe.

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