Friday, May 26, 2017

The Baby Graduates

I hardly know where to start with this post. So many things are all wrapped up in Annika graduating high school. On the surface, it’s just a child graduating, a milestone to be sure. She was my child who loved school. Okay, not the academic part, she did fine there, but she loved the social aspect. She loved our homeschool co op. She loved her friends there and was a part of everything she could possibly be. If they’d had a cheerleading squad she’d have been on it. She has been at this co op from the beginning, starting at Kindergarten. She knew all the teachers, moms, and had many, many friends. 

It was fun watching her go through high school. It was a very joy filled experience for her. 

 The graduation ceremony was last Saturday. Her twin cousins also graduated with her. They also were in this co op for most of their schooling years. These three were a force to be reckoned with. 

The ceremony was nice. It was the co op’s largest graduating class yet at 40. These kids are pretty amazing and oh so smart. The amount of scholarship money awarded to the kids on this stage would blow your mind. (*Brag alert! My nephews are at the top of that list!!!). But they are also a very talented class! There are singers, musicians, actresses, dancers, world class athletes, and the list goes on. 

After the graduation there is a reception where the students get to set up a table. This was Annika’s. She said she wanted a pink, sparkly table cloth so I found the pinkest sparkliest table cloth in existence. 

This table is so her. It represented her biggest joys in from high school. She loves to sing and has been on the worship team in her youth group all of high school. 

She works as a lifeguard at a nearby Baptist camp in the summers along with many of her friends. 

But mostly, she’s all about relationships. She loves her friends fiercely. 

After the reception we moved the party to our house. We had one giant bash for all three kids. There was ping pong, lots and lots and lots of food, my sister-in-law’s famous pies, and great fellowship. One of my favorite things to do at these grad parties is to have a time of prayer and blessing for the graduates. 

This is such a special time as their parents, grandparents, youth leaders, teachers, and friends all pray over the graduates. It’s a wonderful time and I think it is a lasting memory for these kids, it helps them remember how much they were poured into. How much they are loved. How much they’ve been taught. How much they have to offer this world because of the rich heritage they were given in their growing up years. It is a reminder to, as my husband likes to say, ‘use your powers for good.’ These kids have such power. They have the power to go out and change the world. They have the power to spread joy and light. They have the power to outwardly represent Christ. They have all the knowledge, tools, and support they need. They’ve been abundantly blessed, now it’s time for them to go out and be a blessing. 

These three have grown up together. They’ve been at the same co op, they’ve been in the same youth group at church, they’ve been in the same town all their lives and now they’re going their separate ways. It’s going to be an odd year next year. I hate endings but I guess sometimes you have to have endings so you can have new beginnings. 

These three are going to soar. They’re going to do great and amazing things. I am so excited to see where life leads them. I have been so very blessed to be called mom and auntie by these graduates. 

I am very happy to report that while life is changing around here in that I am now retired from homeschooling (My feelings on that will take another post altogether.) my girly is not going away. Because we live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area there are several really good nursing schools within driving distance so she is able to continue living at home while she attends nursing school (her older sister is also doing college from home). 

This has a lot of benefits, not the least of which is money. We are trying to get these kids through college with as little debt burden on them as possible.  Living at home is a good way to do that. Also I think God is just being merciful to me and allowing the process of my kids flying from the nest to be more gradual. They’re college students so I don’t really ‘parent’ them anymore, though I’m here if I’m needed, but I do get to see them regularly and I am grateful for that. 

This girl, y’all. She kept me on my toes. She has always been so full of life. She never does anything half way. She was the child I had to constantly watch because her zest for life, her curiosity, and her undying friendliness got her into a lot of trouble. I can’t count how many times she climbed up on things just to see what was up there, or walked up to complete strangers and struck up a conversation. She would run pell-mell right into trouble and do it smiling and happy. That was the thing with young Annika, she was not a naughty child, she was just so happy to be alive and wanted to experience everything life had to offer. She was also unwaveringly optimistic. She just couldn’t believe there were really bad people, or that anything bad could happen if she say, hung her scooter from a tree with ropes and tried to hang upside from the handlebars while it was swinging… She lived on the bright side of life and was always so shocked with things did not go her sunshiny way. 

While these attributes gave me grey hair and made me despair of her even surviving childhood, they are going to serve her well in life. She wants to be an ER nurse and I’m telling you right now, if you are in the ER and this little bit of sunshine walks into your room, you’re going to get better simply by the force of her happy will. She will have it no other way. 

Being Annika’s mom for these last 18 years, as well as her teacher, has been my joy. She made me a better person. I would prefer not to release her out into the world and keep her for my own self. I’d like to go back in time and start over (maybe this time I’d figure out a way to keep her from playing in the neighbors bird bath every dang day). But life does not allow do-overs no matter how much we might wish it so. 

You’re going to go far, my last little bird. Just don’t forget where the nest is! 

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