Thankful Tuesday – One Grad’s Story

We received the grad photos today for my son’s graduation from University.

We attended the graduation ceremony a few weeks ago. As I sat in the audience, full of pride and nostalgia, my mind reflected on our journey as a family to this point and then to thoughts of every graduate in the ceremony. Each graduate has their story, their journey, their moments of struggle and triumph.

We have two kids – both Queen’s graduates now, and yet so different. This one felt like the graduation that wouldn’t be. This kid – intelligent, wise, independent, and personable. And yet, challenging, stubborn, and sullen at times. This one never enjoyed school, worked since the age of 14 and wondered what he would learn from formal education that would be better than what he was learning on the job. And he was committed to his own path.

In second year of University, he announced at our family Christmas dinner that he planned to stop going to school. It didn’t go over well. After several hours, many words, and some tears (mine, not his), we came to an agreement that he would continue school if he could tell everyone he was only doing it for his mom.

I didn’t care what he told people as long as he continued. I knew he could find jobs and thought he might even be fine without the degree, but I didn’t want him to regret the choice. And with this child, I knew a break from school would probably result in him never returning.

He continued with school. He stayed connected to his family. He kept working at a job he loved – to balance with the school he didn’t. He persevered. We traveled over these 4 tough years, him to us, us to him, and many lunches and dinners where we met halfway. Once a month, we checked in physically to see him. My style is to see the kid to understand the kid. It’s easy to hide things from your mom when you just text or call, but the face tells the story.

Other parents gave me advice to let him do what he wants and said he’d make the right choices. It didn’t feel right so we took our chances. We pushed when required and stepped back to give breathing room.

This child of mine…
– could have graduated in the ceremony in June but didn’t file the paperwork in time
– could have had his photo in the school yearbook, but had the session 2 days before the grad ceremony
– forgot we were having family Thanksgiving dinner the night before the ceremony, but changed his plans to join us anyway
– sent me a picture in line with his robe on so I wouldn’t worry that he would be late
– posed with his sister, and his girlfriend, and parents and smiled for his photos in front of the school landmarks, all without a complaint

So dedicated and focused at work. So loving and caring to his family as he has matured over the years.

It’s been a long and winding road to this graduation. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to all the graduates. And all the parents. And grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, professors, and school counselers who helped them on their individual journeys.

Bask in the success. You’ve all earned it.

The night before grad when I was teasing him about the time he told us he was quitting school, he said with a twinkle in his eye – “funny, I don’t remember that”. I responded with an equally light tone “Oh, yes, must have been someone else.”

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