O'Rourke: Words of wisdom as a son graduates

O'Rourke: Words of wisdom as a son graduates
O'Rourke: Words of wisdom as a son graduates
O'Rourke: Words of wisdom as a son graduates
O'Rourke: Words of wisdom as a son graduates
Posted at 8:43 AM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 08:43:17-04

Much has been written when sons and daughters graduate from high school. I think I've read them all. I'm sure I've sobbed at every single one of them. So, why would I bother to write down my thoughts and feelings? Really, it's selfish. I need to get it out.

My son, Graham, graduates high school Wednesday. He will don a cap and gown, have on nice shoes (he likes nice shoes) and when his name is called, he will shake hands, move his tassel to the other side and will no longer be a high school student.

I think my greatest fear is that he will also no longer be my little boy.

The truth is, while he will always be my sweet baby, he hasn't been a little boy for a long time.

Gone are the chubby cheeks, the sticky fingers and the times he called me "Mommy." No more watching cartoons, learning to ride a bike and wondering if he will ever master multiplication. The years of studying vocabulary and worrying he wouldn’t fit in or would fit in too much are distant memories. One day, he went from a shrimpy little kid to so tall I crane my neck when I look him in the face.

I can't remember the last time I sang a lullaby to him. I actually tried the other day when I snuck in his room to wake him for his last exam (senioritis had settled in like a head cold in February). I started singing and his response while lying with his face in the pillow was, "Mom! That's a ‘nite-nite’ song. You can't sing that in the morning." Crushed, I scraped what was left of my dignity off the dirty, sock-filled floor.

This has been quite a journey we’ve been on together. The early mornings, the late nights, the projects, the "Oh no, I forgot…" fill in the blank (homework, permission slips, lunch). There were rowing practices, cross country meets and the decisions he didn’t want to do either one any more. We struggled with teachers who didn’t understand, felt uplifted by those who did and I think we sweated every grade together.

And without me, he went and found his way, his passion, his promise to the world. He got himself into the school of his dreams and will leave me in 96 days (not that I’m counting or anything). OK, he had help getting there. But it was HIS talent, his grades and his perseverance. I just filled out most of the application, so let’s call this one a wash.

I know I have a few months to say goodbye, but I’d like this moment to offer him some words of advice:

  • Be nice. To everyone. Because it matters.
  • Be a gentleman. Always.
  • Be a friend – especially to those who really need a friend.
  • Be silly. Life should not be so serious.
  • Try not to annoy your roommates. It’s inevitable, but don’t make a habit of it.
  • Do your laundry. No one needs to smell those socks.
  • Learn to manage your money. There’s only so much.
  • Find your passion and find a way to make a living following that passion.
  • Work hard. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
  • Find love. You deserve it.
  • When your heart gets broken, remember, time will heal that wound. I promise.
  • Remember we are proud of you. Of who you are. Never forget that.
  • Honor your family. We will always be here for you, so don’t forget us.
  • Call us on occasion. We will miss you and won’t want to "bug" you.
  • Come home. Soon. Often. OK? Promise?

Rise to the challenges, Graham, because there will be many. There will loads of laughter, tons of friends and plenty of lonely moments. In those times, remember that nite-nite song. Even if it is the middle of the day. I think it will make you smile. I know you will feel like you are home. We are proud of you. We are happy for you. We are ready (sort of) to let you go.

Onward, young man!

Oh! And congratulations!