When my two oldest grandchildren, Chris and Shai, completed their last day of high school, they both stopped by my office to share their thoughts with me. Chris has his next three years of college all planned out, while Shai isn’t sure of what she wants to do concerning college, but that didn’t matter, because their feelings were essentially the same. Both were a little bit in shock. How could all those school years have somehow flown by so quickly? Suddenly it seemed like just yesterday that they were starting Kindergarten, middle school, and high school…so how could it possibly be over. It felt so final.
Looking back, I remember my own final day of high school, and I still remember exactly how I felt. It was a mixture of shock and sadness. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready to move on to the new chapters of my life and all the great things my life would hold, but there was just a little sadness that my formal childhood education, and therefore my childhood were now over. Being an adult is such a change from the teenage years. You don’t have to answer to your parents, or even live under their roof, but that means that you are now responsible for your own bills, your own job, your own decisions, and your own mistakes. It is a big step, but that isn’t what is causing the feeling of, something is…not quite right here…when did I suddenly slip through this passage of time, and how could I have not noticed that it was going by.
To a kid, the school years seem like they will go on forever, and by about first grade they figure out that they have a total of thirteen years of school to go through, and that feels like a huge amount of years of school. It seems never ending. Then in the blink of an eye, they find themselves standing on the threshold of graduation, and they look back and wonder where all the years went. There is simply no way to reach this point without suddenly thinking “Whoa…wait!! I’m not sure I’m ready for this!!” Nevertheless, ready or not, here it is. You don’t have the option to go back, slow down, or stop and do things over. You are graduating, and your years of childhood education, and childhood in general are over. It is a sobering discovery, and therefore it takes a bit of getting used to, combined with that hint of sadness. I could totally relate to how Chris and Shai were feeling.
Whether a student likes school, or can’t wait until it is over, I think the reaction to that final day is the same…even if they plan to go to college. College is not the same as high school, so the feel of that is very different than anything they are used to. Their education is their own responsibility…they can do what they need to do, or they can bomb out. Of course, bombing out does mean that they have some explaining to do to their parents, but it is still up to them really. They are adults now, and their choices are their own…as are their mistakes. I know that both my grandchildren will be great!!