Monday, June 1, 2015

Graduation Frenzy

This month Boy #2 will graduate from high school. Boy #3 will graduate from middle school. Boy #1 will miss the fun because he's back on the east coast for his summer research job. Boy #4 is celebrating the completion of third grade and the fact that baseball season is not yet over. I'll be doing a lot of smiling and picture-taking.

Many of my friends' kids are excitedly planning to attend first-choice schools in the fall, making lemonade out of some less-than-ideal choices, partying, and working. But a few have lost their way. A few have not managed to complete their senior year of high school. And those parents? They are as sad and confused as their children.

Watching this spring unfold has really driven home how much pressure we middle class parents put on our kids. Do well in school. Play a sport. Be creative. Take a leadership position in some club. Intentional or not, it's like we see only one way--one path to a success we define as being just like us.

It's a lot of pressure. While all of our good intentions, financial and emotional support, home-cooked meals and tickets to enrichment events have made some kids feel loved, happy, motivated while others feel terribly stressed and confused. As a writer of YA, observing these kinds of kids try to face graduation time breaks my heart and fills me with questions about the narrowly circumscribed way we show our children what it means to grow up into a happy, productive adult.

Am I going to follow up with some great advice? A writing exercise? A calm-inducing insight? Nope. I'm just going to raise a glass to all the parents and kids I know--those for whom our well-worn path is an easy route and those who are going to have to hack the weeds away from a less-traveled trail--and toast the reality that love and success can take a lot of different shapes. So give your kid a hug. Congrats to the graduates. And, if your kid's "big celebration" doesn't happen to be happening this June, remember that it's just a stupid month and it'll be back next year.

Don't get me wrong. No adventure raising kids is easy.
I have stories I could tell but I know, in truth,
that I've been very lucky so far.