Today is my son’s 5th grade graduation. He has known very little struggle with academics and his ability to socialize has never been questioned. I am sure that in the next year as he leaves the comfort of the elementary school where he has been for six of his 11 years on earth, he will find new challenges and struggles. A new combination of friends and foes. Real world problems and adolescent drama. Puberty-based breakdowns and growing pains both physical and mental.
Being a parent is the greatest thing I have done to this point in life. Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying I am the greatest parent, no, in fact I simply mean it has brought me the most joy. Watching this being grow from 3lbs of flesh and bone into an actual human child. Helping define his world and building reference for the decisions he will make.
I don’t recall being scared of junior high. But the memories of those years are in full brilliant color, HD quality and vivid as yesterday (if not more so). Junior high today is terrifying. Not to this child striving for greatness, but to this old man worrying for his child’s safety. The fact that his innocence now falls into the hands of his teachers and peers in a new and very real way. Will he be accepted by the older children? Will he continue working hard or become jaded? What level of freedom is just enough?
These time-marking events are a threat to our sanity and an attack on our emotions. Throwing the fact that time is flying directly in our faces. We see the potential and hope for the best. He has completed pre-k thru 5th grade. Six years of education with only seven remaining in grade school. It seems impossible and yet, here we are.
I know the questions get harder and more struggles will come. He will grow wiser and more opinionated. We will fight, he will lose. His mother and I will stand together with absolute power dishing out punishment as needed. There will be tears and smiles. He will be reprimanded and celebrated.
Reflection is the only way we can attempt to appreciate that feeling of walking into a new place for the first time. When August rolls around I will be anxious and he will be strong. This isn’t the first day of kindergarten, it is the first day of independence. A brand new place for a new young man.
I met some of my best and lifelong friends in the halls of my junior high. I can only hope he is as lucky and enjoys these brief moments of adolescence as I did all those years ago.
-by Travis Peck
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