It’s our last child’s last day of high school. Our last hurrah with DSISD. John and I have sat through our last child’s last award ceremony, his last FFA meeting and last Ag Boosters banquet. It’s our last week of our last child not studying enough for his last set of high school finals. He’s paid his last class dues. We’ve written our last check to the lunchroom (where current lunches cost considerably more than Micah’s grandfather’s seven cent lunches) and, this morning, received our last e-mail (well, maybe) from the Dripping Springs Independent School District, reminding us about caps, gowns, graduation practices, returning textbooks, senior pictures, and overdue parking tickets.
It’s kind of a big deal. And it’s got this mama’s heart feeling a bit nostalgic and reflective.
During the past twenty plus years of schooling, our three boys learned a lot of “book smarts” and made a lot of changes. They went from simple addition to calculus and trig, from reading sight words to (trying to comprehend) Shakespeare. They learned to dribble a basketball and hike (or throw) a football. They dealt with separation anxiety, kids that weren’t always nice on the playground, and occasional less-than-stellar report cards.
Typical of any student’s senior year, we were asked to provide a list of Micah’s accomplishments and awards throughout his academic career. We’d done this same gathering and assembling for Jordan in 2008 and Jacob in 2010. Grades, scholarships, ribbons, medals. And they received all of those. But wouldn’t it be great to be asked for a list detailing what our kids have learned that we are most grateful for – those things that really have little to do with academics?
They learned to shine their bright lights in a dark world, and they learned – and saw for themselves – that light is far more powerful than darkness. They learned that they didn’t have to conform to the world to be accepted, appreciated, or liked. They learned from private – and not so private – mistakes. They learned to live in the world, but to not be of the world.
With every group project and sport they participated in, they learned how to get along with people, how to work as a team, and that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
With every closed door, they learned how to deal with disappointment, and how to look for and develop their other talents. When they found those talents, they learned tenacity. They learned that persistence pays off. They learned that life (and judges, coaches, referees, and officials) aren’t always fair, but that you have to pick yourself up and keep going with a smile and a good attitude. (I think they’re still learning this.) (Let me just be honest: so am I.)
The boys learned that almost everyone appreciates a genuine smile and a hug. They learned to ask for help from their teachers. They learned that John and I can’t do everything for them, and they realized that they didn’t want us to. They’ve learned to be patient with people who don’t think exactly like they think, and that unlikely friendships can be unexpectedly rewarding.
They have learned that God uses other people in surprising ways to reward and acknowledge their hard work. They learned that people notice and appreciate kindness, respect, and good manners. They likewise learned that people are hurt when there is a lack of kindness, respect, and manners. They learned consequences when they sometimes procrastinated and neglected responsibilities.
Today, we are especially proud of our “last baby” Micah. We recognize the man he is and continues to develop into. We are grateful for the struggles, challenges, and rewards that came through these years of public education – we are glad that he can read and write, but we are most thankful that those struggles, challenges and rewards have helped to develop him into someone who can shape the world around him. We pray God’s richest blessings to be upon him!