Last week, I went to my oldest grandson's graduation ceremony from fifth grade. He will be entering middle school in September. It was such a happy occasion, as all graduations should be; however, there was a preponderance of tissues and sniffles heard as these brave 10- and 11-year-old children marched to the stage. I am convinced that the bittersweet transition of allowing children to move ahead in their lives touched everyone who watched. As a grandmother, I was thinking how much I pray that I will be around for his college graduation. To keep from tearing up, I forced myself to stay in the moment, (even as I noticed my son, his daddy, wiping his eyes under dark sunglasses). I know he will remember that Grandma and Grandpa were there to celebrate this happy event. That is what graduation is really about-celebrating each milestone as it happens.
Today, I am about to go to my youngest grandson's preschool graduation. He called me this morning and asked me to tell him EVERYTHING about kindergarten since I had been a kindergarten teacher in the past. His voice was filled with eagerness and anxiety about what was coming next. I tried to tell him briefly about all the happy things he had to look forward to without going into too much detail. He reassured me that I answered about three quarters of what he wanted to know, but he also told me that he might have some more questions later. I remember my daughter, his mommy, on her first day of kindergarten. She had so many questions for me too. I wonder what he will remember about preschool graduation. I am sure he will grow up not remembering the day or the details, but he will know that he had love that surrounded him. I can't help but think that perhaps that is all that really matters.
The school at which I taught for so many years called graduation the "Moving Up" ceremony. All of the elementary grades were moving up to the next level, and all of the parents celebrated this with the teachers and students. Naturally, the fifth graders had a special event because there were physically leaving the campus to go to Middle School. The parents were so special. They were convinced that an important part of their lives were over, and they were right. The good news was that we always focused on the years ahead that were just beginning. It takes so much grace to move forward with joy. Yet most parents do it naturally because it is all good. It is children and parents and grandparents and relatives going through the passages that make them connect to each other and become family. I can't think of anything more binding than that.
If you are going to a graduation this year, enjoy each fleeting moment. Enjoy the tears and the laughter and the glue called love! Transitions are part of life's scheme. They cause us to face our own mortality in the most dignified way possible. We celebrate and applaud with happy tears with hope with anticipation for many more profound occasions ahead.