Graduation Day!

IMG_0329Today we celebrated Justin’s graduation from high school. I wish I had been better about chronicling this year, but most of the time I was living it instead of writing about it. Or maybe I just didn’t know what to say. So, here is the biggest thing I learned this year: Letting my son work out his own decisions means he’ll own those decisions more. We were always there to talk through aspects of different decisions that he might not have thought through thoroughly, but ultimately, he needed to make his own choices.

I wouldn’t have chosen for him to have a girlfriend—especially one 5 years older than he—during high school, but he thought otherwise, and so Steph came into our lives. Because I have a heart for 20-something girls, I embraced Steph as someone I could pour into spiritually. We have had long talks many times, text frequently and have lunch together every so often. I treat her like a daughter and love it when she seeks my advice. His choice; our support.

I wouldn’t have chosen for him to work split shifts at 2 different Chick-fil-A restaurants while still going to school, but he wanted the challenge (and the money) and so he did it for a couple of weeks. I was concerned about how little sleep he was going to get. He said he hadn’t crashed and burned yet. I said it was only a matter of time. He said, Nah. He did it and he survived. But I think he learned that he didn’t really want to do that again.
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I didn’t like the idea that he only had 2 classes on his campus, and a couple on the local community college campus through the dual enrollment program. That left him with a lot of time in the mornings most days, and I wondered if his motivation to attend those few classes would wane over the course of the year. He’s never had as many unexcused absences as he had this year, but still he graduated with better than a 4.0 and a ranking of 10th in his class of 600+. He kept telling me, “Don’t worry about it.” I guess I should have listened.

When he talked of moving out of the house when he turned 18—5 months shy of high-school graduation—I told him he was out of his ever-loving mind. Probably not the best approach. So I backed off and gave him some compelling reasons why he shouldn’t: he wouldn’t have access to the vehicle he’d been driving, and he would lose the college fund we have for him. When he questioned why I would say that, I told him that he was making a foolish financial decision, and I wouldn’t support that. He saw the reason behind that and dropped the idea. Now, all I can do is point out that he would have a hard time making it financially if he moved out and really needs to keep up with school so he can keep his scholarships, but ultimately, the decision to move out when he starts college is his. We’ll see how that one turns out

IMG_0311Some of the dearest words to me this year have been, “That’s a good point.” Yay! I’m glad he listens to us even though he’s independent and likes to beat his own head against the wall. He says he doesn’t like people telling him he isn’t able to do something. He wants to find out for himself. I want to keep him from failing, but I’ve learned failing is probably the only way he’s going to learn.

Just like a toddler saying, “I do it myself!”

And he most often succeeds when he tries.

Congratulations, Justin. I love you to the moon!

Another Kind of Senior (A Guest Post)

LeslieI invited my sister Leslie to post this week regarding her journey as the mom of a senior in college. Enjoy!

My youngest son will be entering his senior year of college at the end of September. When he was 18, my husband, daughter and I moved him into his dorm room at Western Washington University, took a brief tour of the campus and went out to dinner together. After we said goodbye and left him there, I cried most of the way home, all the while being assured by my daughter that he would be fine. Of course, he has been more than fine and has quite a good life for himself in a really nice town. I think he would say so too, except for the studying part, which is why, of course, he went there in the first place.

It turns out that his college experience has been as much about me as it has about him.

He is a remarkable young man in many ways. After his junior year of high school, he got himself an internship at a prestigious restaurant in town and grew in his cooking knowledge and skill. He also survived several rounds of interviews and was accepted into a youth program where he worked at Microsoft every day after school. And he got himself there on the bus every day. He also figured out, all on his own, that doing well and getting good grades was important and he made his way into Honor Society his senior year. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t me doing such a good job as his mother but it was him, working it all out on his own; seeking and finding new opportunities, learning how to be resourceful and successful. And so it has been, for the last 3 years. And so I have moved from being an active participant in his life to being a proud observer and supporter.

He is not pursuing a life of faith right now, at least in the way I understand faith. I have had to grow in my ability to accept that. But I am confident that God is at work and is obviously showing favor toward him, in the quiet, unseen ways that God often does. And may it continue to be so as he moves closer and closer toward that momentous graduation day. Meanwhile, he will choose his classes, schedule his work hours, study on campus and in the new house that he found—along with two friends, and will move into before the quarter starts—go shopping, fix his own meals, pay his own bills, navigate his way around town on his bike and on the bus and all those other things that college students do while they are growing up and becoming responsible adults. And I will cheer him on from home while I, too, grow up, albeit in a completely different way: letting go, praying, trusting. Trusting in my young man’s character and in God’s great grace.

My sister Leslie Grant lives in Kirkland, Wash., is married to Ron and has 3 children, 2 of whom are married adults. She is a para teacher in the public school system. She is an avid Seattle Mariners fan, which puts us at odds during the season as my A’s are in the same division as the M’s. But blood is thicker than baseball, so it’s all good.

That Senior Year Schedule

Jusitn's beach dayIt may be summer, but school creeps into our everyday lives around here. In Orange County, Fla., our students are required to complete an online class in order to graduate. All the classes my senior needs to take are tough enough that he doesn’t want to do them online, so he opted for something that might be a little fun: creative photography. He’s got an artistic bent that we figured would be nurtured by something like this. So far, school though it is, he seems to be liking the hands-on aspect of the class.

But we’re still having a bit of a hard time figuring out what other classes he should be taking next year. The Air Force Academy wants him to keep up a rigorous schedule of classes, but he really only needs 1 more English class to graduate.

AP vs. dual enrollment is the question of the day. He absolutely does not want to take AP Lit., so that means he needs to take a dual enrollment comp. class. He passed the AP English test, so he is exempt from comp 1, but he has to take his test results to the college campus to prove that he passed it so that he can enroll in comp. 2 instead.

Then there’s the foreign language issue. He’s taken his 2-year graduation requirement, but does the Academy want him to take a 3rd year? If so, the only period he can take it at his high school is 1st, making scheduling dual enrollment classes difficult since they’re not offering but 1 class at his high school meaning he has to leave his high school campus to go to the college campus.

I don’t remember having to go through all this in high school.

So, a call to his Academy counselor is in order to find out whether he recommends the 3rd year of foreign language. If so, Justin will try to squeeze in the 2 dual enrollment classes between 1st and 5th period, when he has to be back for his AP Physics class.

Good thing he drives.sURVIVAL gUIDE

Good thing the college isn’t very far away.

Gone are the days of an easy senior-year schedule. AP Physics, Aerospace Science 4, dual enrollment pre calculus then calculus, dual enrollment comp 2, possibly French 3. Makes my brain hurt just to think about it.

Work. Academy application. Online class. phew. I almost feel sorry for the poor guy.

Oh, for those lazy, hazy days of summer.