The bittersweet reality of graduations

In just under three hours, Susan and I will no longer have any kids in elementary school. I'm not sure either of us has caught up with that reality. We are excited Nathaniel is graduating from elementary school today, but elementary school represents an innocent and often magical period of life, and it's sad to think we as parents will no longer be part of that world.

Nathaniel with his awesome 5th-grade teachers
Graduations are good at stirring up these bittersweet emotions. This morning as I was walking with Nathaniel and his class to their final field day, I ran into a friend whose oldest child is finishing kindergarten. He was feeling the bittersweet too. He's proud of his daughter, but he wasn't ready to let go of kindergarten yet. I understand!

Today I'm thanking God for Nathaniel's big personality and his wild ride through elementary school. I'm thankful for his teachers who poured their energy into seeing him excel. I'm remembering the open houses, field trips, and parent-teacher conferences. Most of all, I remember the field trips. I went on a field trip each year, starting when our oldest went on her first one. It's a discipline I recommend! It's like going to the zoo. You get to see your child in his/her native environment. You come away with all sorts of observations.

One last word on this. If you are a parent, my advice is to be present with your kids. Once these times go by, all you have is memories. The more present you are, the more vivid your memories. And the more your child feels the security of your love.

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