Thursday, June 08, 2017

Commencement

T,

Your mom has made practice of addressing you more directly in these posts because you're going to read them eventually. I haven't made that move until today. I decided I needed to change my writing perspective about you because I've more fully realized how independent and distinct you've become. Having children, as you may choose to learn someday, is an intimidating, exhilarating, daunting, rewarding, terrifying proposition.

I think it's natural for parents to think of their children as extensions of themselves for a while--your mom and I have been your primary influences, after all. Lately, I've been more aware of the delineation that all of us have to make between ourselves and our parents. I remember having those realizations myself about how I was different from my parents, and I realize a lot of it was beginning to happen around the time I was your age.

You've done a great job lately of deciding who you want to be. Choosing to grow your hair out was a good example. Last night was an even greater reminder of how fully you are your own person. You were brilliant in your class's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. You were bold and confident. Your voice boomed. You instigated a fight (!). You owned lines that spoke wisely of the folly of the human spirit and the hilarious and unexpected ways of love. Not only was I proud of you, I admired your confidence and passion.


More people than I can remember complimented me on your performance after the show. I loved hearing it, but I realized I want to remember that it's you and your work they were praising. Your performance showed me a side of you that I don't think I've ever seen--and I've gotten to spend almost every day of your life with you.

Personally, I've been trying to remind myself to listen more to the people around me. I feel like I need to listen and hear more than speak and tell. Last night, I had a chance to listen to you and your wonderful friends, and I am better for it.

Then today, you graduated from 5th grade. We're off to middle school. I admit, feel nervous about you going to middle school, because it's new and kind of intimidating. The play last night reminded me that you're your own person, and middle school is largely yours to take on.


I just want you to know that I want to help. I promise to try to listen, and I want you to feel free to tell me anything and ask me anything. The nature of a parental relationship means that we're going to disagree sometimes. I want you to know that it's ok for us to disagree. There's an idea I like that I share with my classes sometimes: "If all the people in a room share the exact same opinions, then all but one of those people is unnecessary." I hope to remember that idea even applies to young adults whose diapers I used to change (Too much? Bad joke? That's a dad thing, I guess).

More seriously, it also makes me think of some of my favorite ideas about love and forgiveness. I promise I will always love you, no matter what. And I promise that will be true even when we disagree or have days when we don't see eye to eye on everything. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians said it a long time ago better than I can now:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of wrongs. . . Love never gives up. . . and endures through every circumstance. . . Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love."
As you leave behind elementary school, you're leading our family into uncharted territory (again). You may not realize it, but you've taught me a lot over the last 11 years. I promise I'll try to listen, love, and learn from you as you move on to the next stage. This blog is a place where mom and I have dedicated much of our time to expressing our gratitude, and I hope you know in your heart of hearts that we are thankful for you, your brother, and your sister more than we could hope to say. I love you, T, and am thankful for the brilliant young person, friend, sibling, and teammate you are.


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