A couple of boxes  arrived in the mail a while back.  The return address is labeled Jostens, and I know exactly what it is.  One part of me is excited to open the box, the other part of me wants to put off opening it as if leaving it unopened could delay the event that the contents of the box signals.  What’s in the box?

Senior son’s cap and gown for graduation.

The other box contains the graduation announcements for Kadena High School, class of 2011.

Though I am excited to see my son reach this culminating rite of childhood, I know I will cry when I open the box and see what is inside.  I think I will have Son open the box, cause he will totally think Mom is a basket-case to cry opening the box with the cap and gown in it.  Sentimentality hasn’t hit him yet—he hasn’t lived long enough to know the sweet ache in your heart as your precious children grow up and prepare to venture out into the world.  Lord willing, his day will come, cause I am really hoping to be a grandma some day… in the distant future.

We’ve done the graduation thing before.  We have experience with this–pre-school graduation in 1998.

Ready for kindergarten

He was decked out in a bright blue, happy-meal sized cap and gown with a gold tassel that he loved messing with.  I can distinctly remember how he squirmed and fidgeted, exchanging pokes with his best friend, Chad.  The strains of Pomp and  Circumstance began and I swear, that song creates tears in the first three notes.  I am sure that song, along with the wedding march, is the most powerful make-momma-cry songs!  Anyhow, they all trotted up to the front and shook their teacher’s hand when prompted, receiving the diploma that signified they were ready to start kindergarten  in the fall.  Happy and proud, I naively thought, I am glad this is only pre-school graduation.  High School graduation is light years away.  Thirteen years is forever away.

Well here I am, rapidly approaching the other side of that equation, and the time has melted away so much faster than I ever thought possible.

Still shorter than me at 8 years old

In the years in between, his interests have ranged from Legos, cars, and dinosaurs to Pokémon and Star Wars, to Tae Kwon Do, roller hockey, and on to the drums.

Getting ready to test for a new belt

At that point, he kind of got stuck on the music thing (in a good and crazy way!!) and over the next five years added bass guitar, upright bass, acoustic guitar, saxophone, and jazz flute into the mix with a passion for Jazz that rapidly crowded out most other things.  He has put together high school jazz combos and played professionally here on Okinawa.  He is looking forward to minoring in Jazz in college.

Playing for a block party with Indigo Jazz in 2010

Playing a professional gig with Carlos Saldana Spring 2010

Why is it that your kids can go through phases and stages that you think will never pass? Most of the time they are fairly small behaviors that worry you like crazy as you pull your hair out and wonder if they will ever outgrow it.  At three, you worry they will never be potty-trained.  At six, you worry that they will never learn to write legibly…(well, somethings they might not quite grow out of. ) At thirteen, you worry that they will never learn to keep up with their stuff as you make yet another trip to school to drop of a forgotten major project.  Then one day you turn around and they are six inches taller and that bang-your-head-against-the-wall behavior is long gone.  At sixteen you wonder if they will  learn all that they need to know before leaving home in a few short years.  At 18, a few weeks before graduation, you look up and see that your six-foot-two little boy has indeed grown up on you.

Some how…some way, they grow up.  All of the worries, questions, prayers, and sleepless nights somehow by the grace of God and a good measure of parental sweat silently roll into the future and your teenager stands on the brink of adulthood, nearly ready to step into a wider world with new challenges and joys to experience on his own.

Today is Mother’s Day (I am late posting this due to some technical difficulties-computer guru that I am), so I guess it’s okay to be more than a little sentimental. Well I guess, I had better get this box open and the gown pressed.  It is time for my son with his still-barely-legible  handwriting to be addressing his graduation announcements.  In order to do this, they are going to have  to come out of the box!

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