Oh, the Places Thing 1 Will Go!

by Fat Daddy, Esq. on May 19, 2023

Well, the day has finally arrived. Our little 4th Grade Something, the Super-Scholar turned Super-Slacker, is a high school graduate. Hot Mama and I are proud to say that she rebounded nicely from her 4th grade doldrums to become a fine example for her friends, classmates, siblings and all who come into contact with her.

When she started her freshman year, she was quite shy. She lacked confidence. I’m sure she felt out of place at times. Tonight she graduates as the Senior Class President and Student Council President. Last week she gave a speech at the student council banquet that detailed her metamorphosis from Shy Freshman to Senior Leader. This transition started with being “volun-told” by her parents to enroll in the Leadership Class. And the transition progressed when her older student council friends “volun-told” her to run for office and keep their traditions alive. At the end of this transition she is the mentor urging others, including her little sister, to be leaders in their school and community. During her speech she said “I think that when you love someone, you need to volun-tell them to do the hard things that make them nervous.” As she stood before a cafeteria full of parents, students and teachers delivering her address I sat in wonder at the ease and eloquence with which she spoke. It was a better speech than I could recall from most of the previous banquets I had attended, and that wasn’t just because the speaker was my kid.

This week we had three more end-of-year gatherings to attend: Baccalaureate, the All Sports Banquet, and the Senior Awards Assembly. The Baccalaureate service was at a local church. It was the first time we all got to see the soon-to-be graduates in their regalia. They entered to the customary Pomp and Circumstance melody. Two of her classmates sang songs. A local pastor spoke about the unconventional chain of events that resulted in his current pastoral position and fanning the flames of the gifts of God. While I’m generally happy about our current situation, it was the first time I was briefly sad. I don’t really know why. Maybe seeing her there with her friends in their caps reinforced the reality that our lives are about to change. My sadness quickly gave way to acceptance which in turn gave way to anticipation for what’s to come.

Next was the sports banquet. Thing 1 played sports from the time she was old enough to sign up. During her elementary school years she took part in dance, gymnastics, cheer, soccer, basketball, and softball. By the time she hit high school, dance and softball were the only ones left. She added track for her freshman year and then swapped out for golf her sophomore and junior years. This year only softball remained. And it was a struggle at times. She did well but it wasn’t the super successful season she may have once hoped for. Over the course of her four years on the varsity team, they won 18 games. Half of those were during her freshman year when she didn’t play much. They won three games her senior season. She had ups and downs and frustrations. Her participation in sports helped her see that she can face adversity and become stronger.

When we arrived at the banquet, she soon realized she was the only female senior athlete that showed up. At first she wanted to sit at a table with her parents but eventually her friends convinced her to sit at the head table with the approximately 20 male senior athletes. It was another instance of doing a hard thing that made her nervous. But no one questioned that she had earned her seat at that table along with the boys. She put in the work and deserved to be recognized.

The Senior Awards Assembly was a fun night. It was a joy to see all of the seniors cheer for their classmates when they were recognized for their accomplishments and awards. Thing 1 accepted three scholarships – two from local civic groups and one from the university she is attending in the Fall. She was also named the female Student of the Year. It was nice for her to see that her hard work was recognized by the faculty and it reinforced to her that she is a special individual.

Thing 1 got her moniker on this site due to her early love for Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat. The title of this post comes from another one of his famous books that makes the rounds in graduation gifts this time of year, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Like in the story, she has “brains in her head” and will “decide where to go.” She’ll “join the high fliers who soar to great heights” – “except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.” She will head off to college in the Fall and continue to experience new things. So just as the tale ends, I say to Thing 1, “you’re off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So‚Ķget on your way!”

Hot Mama and I are still so very proud of Thing 1. She is our first child. She was, and continues to be, the guinea pig for our parental experience. As Hot Mama recently reminded her, we have not ever been the parents of an eighteen year old so this is all new to us. Letting Thing 1 spread her wings and venture out into the world is a hard thing that makes me nervous. But I know that she is ready. And I also know that she will still be around in a different way.

The training wheels are off. We have run alongside her with one hand on her shoulder and another at her back and now she is going her own direction under her own power. Now we have to stand on the sidewalk and watch her pedal away. We will continue offering cheers for her accomplishments and encouragement when she falls off course, just from a little further down the road. It’s just a new experience that we will have to adjust to and enjoy the next stage of metamorphoses in our lives.

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