It feels like you started kindergarten about a year ago. Maybe two. Three years, tops.
I remember a lot of things about that time in your life.
I remember walking into your classroom with you on your “meet the teacher” night that first time, watching with pride as you greeted your teacher and classmates. “Hi!” you said, introducing yourself. “I’m new here.”
I remember how much fun we had picking out your first “real” backpack, and filling it with the supplies every kindergartner needs: glue sticks, crayons and construction paper.
I remember how nervous I was when you had to get on the bus in the morning, and how anxious I was the rest of that day, hoping and praying everything was going well.
I remember how you were so worn out after that first day of school that you fell asleep at the dinner table at 6:30 PM, out for the night.
I also remember that we got through it. You adjusted to “real” school, and your Dad and I adjusted to a new routine – one that involved homework and after-school activities, parent-teacher conferences and standardized testing. We figured it out.
I remember all of that, like it was yesterday. But, of course, it wasn’t yesterday.
Somewhere in the intervening years between then and now, you finished grade school. And somehow you finished middle school. And now, somehow you’re well into your third-year of high school.
Suddenly, inexplicably, we are visiting colleges this year, talking about ACT tests and contemplating what will come next in your life. How the heck we got from kindergarten to this point in a blink of an eye, well, that’s a mystery for the ages.
But here we are, attending information sessions and visiting campuses, dorms and student centers.
Want to know what I see every time we look at a different university?
I see you taking an interest in college life, picturing yourself attending each of the schools we’ve visited.
I see you drinking in all of the information college admission counselors share to entice prospective students to apply. And yes, I did see the glint in your eye when you found out the last school we visited had a 64/36 female to male student ratio.
I see the day coming in the not-too-distant future when we will be buying all of the supplies every college freshman needs: dorm room bedding, textbooks and meal plans.
I see that day, already through teary eyes, when we’ll help load up the car and get you settled into campus life.
I see you really spreading your wings, becoming your own man, making the usual mistakes along the way; becoming a better, stronger man because of those mistakes.
I’m grateful that I still have some time to adjust to the idea of you leaving home. I know we’ll also adjust to this new routine too, just like we have adjusted to every other milestone in your life so far.
I know we still have you in our home for another year and half. And, yes, I know that this is all part of the deal, part of the inexorable track we’ve been on from the very first day of your life.
Your Dad and I are both proud of the young man you already are. I hope you know that we are behind you, whatever direction you want to take after high school. But, can I tell you a secret? Sometimes (just sometimes) I wish you were still five, full of a five-year old’s curiosity and mischief.
As the next year unfolds and you get a better picture of where you’ll be going after high school, here’s what I wish for you:
Be open to new adventures.
Keep being you, no matter what.