Today, my 17-year-old bonus son graduates from high school. Although this journey has been relatively smooth, he is now making his own decisions about his life…without us. His college plans and his next steps are for him. And we must now take a back seat in a car that we have been driving. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Although I’m sure he will continue to ask for money and sometimes maybe advice, his decisions are now his own. In less than two months, he won’t have us to wake him up for school. He won’t have to adhere to a curfew. And as trivial as it sounds, he won’t have to ask his teachers if he can go to the restroom.
There is a quiet space between childhood and adulthood that comes in so quickly that we are often not aware that it’s happening.
For the past three years, I have taught seniors in high school. Many people often look shocked when I tell them this. Most can’t believe I choose to teach kids who are “almost grown” and have attitudes and a sense of entitlement. I blame this mostly on technology. Teens these days don’t have to look up a book through the Dewey Decimal System — they google it. They don’t have to rely on MapQuest to tell them how to reach a destination. If they need money, one click of a button sends it instantly to Cash app or Venmo. And while these modern advancements have created a sense of security for us, I’ve wondered if we have prepared our son to have grit.
Grit is defined as an unyielding determination in the face of hardship.
For a 17-year-old that has the world at his fingertips, how will he persist when life doesn’t give him what he wants? As parents I believe we have shielded (or tried to) our children from the hardships of life. But one lesson that I’ve learned is that we can’t. We won’t be able to carry them over the struggles they may face. We can’t be sure they will always make the right decisions. Even more, we can’t guarantee they will make the decisions that we would. They are different people than what our generation was 10 or 20 years ago.
But right now, I love watching our son mold into a man, yet I still see the kid who loves video games and 5-dollar pizza. This summer will be the transition that we were never ready for. He will eventually come home from college full of experiences that he didn’t have with us, stories that he won’t share, and memories with people we don’t know. However, I’m ready to see how these changes and experiences will shape him into a person that will add value to this world.