Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday's Words for November 10, 2010

I was privileged to do something recently that I hadn’t been able to do in a very long time: I attended a High School graduation ceremony, this one for my oldest grandson.

It was the first commencement I had attended since my own.

Those of you who are regular readers of my essays know that I tend to be more than a little transparent. I’m not afraid to let you see my warts or know of my shortcomings. We’re all on this journey together and although sometimes it feels as if we’re alone, we none of us truly are.

It has been one of my greatest disappointments in life that I failed to successfully encourage any of my children to graduate High School, or to go on to higher education when they were still at that age.

That’s not to say I’m not proud of my kids, for I am, of course. My oldest son, while he left school at the age of 16, has worked himself up to a foremanship with a large Aggregate company—the same company but different job site that employs his father. My daughter, as you know, recently attended college for a year to earn a certificate as a personal support worker.

Both of my children enjoy their chosen fields, and that, I keep reminding myself, is the most important thing.

But, still. You have dreams for children, dreams that they will do better in life than you were able to. You want them to have more, but sometimes they have to get there making the same mistakes you made. That’s one of the toughest things about being a parent, isn’t it?

The High School Commencement ceremony hasn’t changed all that much in thirty-eight years. [Just let me take a moment to breathe deeply after realizing that’s how long it’s been since I graduated High School.] The processional music was the same, the roll call of students was conducted more or less in the same manner, with just one difference. In my day, one graduated at the end of grade 12 or at the end of grade 13, either going on to college or university or into the working world. But now, in this province, while there is no grade 13, a lot of the grade 12 students were still attending the school, pursuing additional credits. They called it, “taking a victory lap”. I thought that was cute.

There were awards given, and the names read of all those who’d achieved the Honor Roll. My grandson was disappointed as he’d achieved the requisite 80 per cent in all but one subject. The lone holdout was math, where he had but 79 per cent. He did, however, win the physical fitness award. If you saw him, you’d see why he got that. He works out a lot, and my goodness, does it ever show!

He isn’t quite decided yet on his future career. He’s considering two options, being a personal trainer, and being a cop. That’s the main reason he’s taking additional courses for this semester. To buy himself some time to decide.

His father—my son—has a similar attitude to mine, in that he wants mostly for his kids to spend their working lives doing what they love. But he’s been very stringent in his demand that they all graduate high school and then get something more. He tells them that he was just plain lucky, to get to where he is without a high school education, and in this he tells a partial truth. Yes, he was lucky, but he always had a positive attitude and a really good work ethic. It’s nice to know that even in today’s world, hard work and a positive outlook can still take you somewhere.

Next year his second son will graduate, but not from the same high school. Our second eldest grandson is attending a secondary school more geared toward the trades. He has enjoyed learning the fundamentals of being a chef, and being a mechanic. I have no idea yet what his final direction will be among those two. But since he enjoys both equally well, I know that whatever he decides to do with his life, it will be what he wants to do, what will make him happiest.

It was wonderful for me to go to that ceremony, and you can be sure that I cheered loud and long. And as an added bonus, I got to enjoy the pride my son and daughter-in-law felt on this special occasion. Of course, I had pride of my own.

My son grew up to be a very good father. They should really give diplomas for that.


1 comment:

Kris_Cook said...

Morgan - what a great event. You should be very proud.