To my little graduate:
I’m so proud of you. I used to think graduation ceremonies at this age were just a cute, end-of-the-year celebration. Now I see how much they really represent.
I watched you in amazement this year. I saw all of your hard work. Not just academically but socially and emotionally as well. You learned to make friends without me there. You learned how to make your place in the world. You have learned to deal with disappointment, stand up for yourself, and the awkwardness of not being friends with everyone. You dealt with teasing because of your Frozen backpack (why do we still not have “boy” Frozen merchandise?).
You told us you fell in love “for real life” and that you know who you’re going to marry (that’s changed three times over the course of the year). You want to be a husband when you grow up. You also want to make robots. You have a whole life that is separate from me now.
Less than a year has passed since you started school, but so has a lifetime’s worth of change.
I see you navigating the world. I see you figuring things out. I hear your inside jokes and the stories I don’t quite understand because I wasn’t there. I see your whispers and giggles shared between friends. I see you understanding the rules of games we’ve never played before. I see you ready to jump in and play at the playground, no longer hesitant or just following older kids around. You’ve learned the world of your peers.
I listen to your teacher, and I’m in awe of the things you do. Sure, you’ve learned writing and reading and math. But you also help your teacher. You bring joy to the classroom. You advocate for your friends. I see you taking the things you’ve learned at home to school, and it makes my heart swell.
How is it that the baby and toddler phase felt like a lifetime, but all of a sudden you are a big kid? When did that happen?
There really is no baby left in you. You are tall. Your face has lost all the baby squishiness. It’s hard to explain, but you carry yourself differently now. You have become your own separate person.
Everyone says it goes by too fast, but I didn’t really believe it for the first couple of years. Time is rushing by now. It feels like just yesterday you hid behind us at kindergarten orientation. Now school ends and we get a quick hug before you rush off to play with your friends some more. I know that before long, I may not even get that hug at the end of the day.
You see, this isn’t just a celebration of making it through the first year of school.
This is a graduation from the first part of your life.
The part when I knew everything there was to know about you. The part when I spent more time with you than without you. This graduation is not just a cute photo opportunity. It’s a chance to marvel at your first big step into the world. It’s my first chance to let go a little. You will keep taking steps and I will keep letting go. Little by little, you will take on the world.
It is a graduation of our time revolving around each other. Your orbit is wider now, and while I may still be the sun, your trips back to me are much longer now. This is the goal of parenthood—to build you up so we can slowly let you go. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet, but I’m along for the ride and going at your pace.
So congratulations, my little graduate. Here’s to one giant leap forward and to looking forward to where the journey takes you from here.