I have been here before. My eldest daughter, who is now approaching the half way mark of her own high school career, graduated from the very same school that my 12 year old daughter is graduating from today.
Our relationship with this school is long, wonderful and now coming to an end.
The formal ceremonies took place two nights ago….my wife and I volunteered to be on the Food Committee and we were able to reach out to the parents for their own homemade concoctions and I was able to pull a few rabbits out of the hat by getting a nearby coffee shop and frozen yogurt store to donate some stuff.
My 12 year old went to school that day until noon. My wife picked her up and took her for a mani-pedi and to blow out her hair…just what every 12 year old girl needs..right?
She looked stunning when she came home from the salon….but she looks stunning every single moment of every single day – both my girls do!
She chilled out at home until it was time to get dressed. Fearing that she not be the only girl in the graduating class to wear the same dress as her, she came to school where her mother and I were already helping to set up for the event.
Beautiful, glowing, smiling, cheerful, innocent and without any kind of care in the world…she was light like a bird and spectacular like a flower.
The ceremony began, pomp and circumstance followed as the graduating class entered the gymnasium. The speeches began, the valedictorian spoke, current teachers, retired teachers sitting in attendance along with proud parents and siblings stirring in their seats.
Then the presentations began for special acknowledgements of achievement.
Math, science, french, sports.
Then an award for Personal Growth.
My kid won! We were all surprised and she was overcome with emotion as she wept walking back to her seat holding her award.
There were boxes of kleenex circulating in the crowd and I could have used two or three as her big, lumbering wuss of a dad was blubbering with pride and happiness.
As the teacher who presented the award eloquently said, “some people take a path from Point A to Point B which is a straight line. Others take a more rambling, swirling journey”. One thing about my kid is that although she took a swirling path, she did it with determination, enthusiasm, spirit and a very big infectious smile on her face.
The evening was spectacular and the sincerity and authenticity of those who spoke and those who work at the school was very apparent, making the end of our tenure with the school very bittersweet.
Almost every morning for the past two-plus years, I have had the priviledge of walking my youngest daughter to school. I have even blogged about it. It has been a brief stroll where we have been able to talk about everything and anything.
I have recently been joking with her that the days of our walk are coming to an end as she starts middle school in the fall and the walk is much longer and will probably be done without me. She will meet up with friends as it becomes less and less cool to be seen walking to school with her dad.
This morning, was our last walk. We counted the number of steps from our front door to the front door of the school.
With each and every step I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with my daughter (by the way, I adore both my daughters…I just happen to be talking about my younger one today). With each and every step, I move farther and farther away from the days when I held her, pushed her in a stroller, helped her take her first steps, walked behind her as she learned to ride her bike and chased after her hoping I would catch her and tickle her.
These are my memories…memories I will take with me as we enter into the next stage of her life….teenage-dom.
I do have a teenager…and she is wonderful. She is a typical teenager so she is prone to emotional flare-ups, rolling of eyes and all of those wonderful teenage qualities parents around the world adore.
However, much like her younger sister, I have memories of her as a younger person…sweet, funny, kind and loving. She is still that person…at her core.
I know my wife and I have done our very best raising our children. The job is not done and we have made some errors along the way (although I am sure my wife would NEVER admit to this!). However, our children are wonderful and we are blessed.
Our hard work is paying off as our children mature into grounded, empathic, considerate citizens of the world.
We will be there to nurture and support them in every way we can…each and every step of the way.