In a couple of days I am going to have the honor of standing in front of a graduating class of seniors, accepting their course work and declaring them graduates. I chair the Board of Trustees for the school my children and many of their friends attend. In a couple of days, I am going to watch young men who swam in my pool at the kindergarten party 12 years ago walk across the stage and accept a diploma. I am going to watch young women who spent the night at my home and giggled with my daughter as they talked about boys and dressed up like princesses walk across the stage and walk in to a new stage of life. In a couple of days the world as I know it will once again be redefined, because kids I have seen every day for 12 years are not going to be there anymore.
When these milestone days occur it is humbling, because it is a reminder of how fast time is passing by.
One of my best friend’s sons will graduate Friday evening. This is a boy who I have shot fireworks with on the 4th of July and who I remember trying to coax into the water because he was too scared as a little fella to jump in the pool at a cookout. Girls that my daughter has played sports with, and who have eaten most of the food in my house, are scattering to different towns and different states as they pursue college degrees. These kids were just kids and I turned around and now they are high school graduates about to head out on their own. I am worried that if I turn around again they will have kids of their own and once again time will have passed by so quickly.
When days like graduation day occur, it makes me wish I could just slow down time and keep these kids as kids just a little while longer. I love the giggling and the silliness and the innocence of childhood. I love it when my youngest daughter sings at the top of her lungs with absolutely no embarrassment or awareness as she dresses. I love it that my son still runs through the house and hugs me when I get home. I don’t want these days to end. But they will. And for some they just did.
So what do we do? How do we walk into a world where our kids are growing up and leaving? How do we cope with the fact that time is passing much quicker with every year of our life? We deal with it by making sure there are no wasted days. A day spent in front of the TV is a wasted day. A day spent shooting baskets with your kids is a day well spent. A day spent worrying about finances and work is a wasted day. A day spent laughing with and loving on your spouse and kids is a day well spent. A day spent wishing for peace and quiet while the kids romp and stomp is a day that will be sorely missed in the very near future.
Today is here. Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow will come and go so quick you won’t even have time to remember most of it. So make today count. Thousands of kids are about to walk across the stage, and we are going to declare them young adults. If one of these kids is yours, seize the moment and hug and kiss and love on your kid and make it a day that they will always remember as a great one. I don’t care if your graduate is a 250 pound hulk of a young man or a 105 pound little lady – your child is never too old or too mature or too big to not need a hug and kiss from mom and dad! Make today a day that they know they have achieved a lifetime milestone, and they knew they had made you proud.
If you have younger ones, realize how quickly the day is coming that they will walk across that stage... and then walk out of your home. Cherish these days, because they will be gone soon and you will wish you had one more day of giggling and running and playing. If your kids have already walked that stage and have started a life on their own, this is the perfect time to pick up the phone and remind them just how proud of them that your are.
Sadly, many kids who should be walking that stage are not.
If you know one of those kids then make it your mission to encourage them to go back and finish the very thing that they need to begin a life of independence. It is so hard to get a dropout excited about going back to school, but a great motivator is encouragement and love and support and persistence. If you know of a child who is at-risk of dropping out, now is the time to make sure they know that you are there to help them maintain. Help them understand that with a little hard work and perseverance, they too can walk that stage and then time will fly for them as well.
I keep telling life to slow down, and it is just not listening. So I have decided that today will be a great day, because today is what we have.