Tonight, my 17-year-old grandson is graduating from high school. As my daughter-in-law stated, “I am of two minds”. There is a part of me that is happy that he is getting ready to take the next step, which for him is college. There is another part of me that wants to not just stop the clock, but actually reverse the clock back to when he was little.
We are fortunate that during his 17 years, he has not gotten into serious trouble, has usually gotten good grades, has a nice group of friends, knows what he wants to be when he grows up (at least today) and, most importantly, he actually seems to enjoy being around his parents and grandparents.
My son, in his Facebook posting today, very eloquently thanked all of the people who have impacted my grandson during his 17 years. He thanked other parents for keeping an eye on him. He thanked his church for giving him the right role models and allowing him to take on a youth leadership role. He even thanked me, his mom, for setting a good example and loving this child over those years. The post actually brought tears to my eyes. My son has always been able to write from his heart!
That turned my thoughts to the less fortunate 17 year olds who are graduating today, or those 17 year olds who have dropped out. Did they have a good group of friends? Were their parent’s friends watching over them? Did they have the good fortune of having parents who made sure they had clean clothes, good food and attended a church? Sadly, I know the answer to those questions, and it is often no.
My heart breaks for so many little ones that don’t know what it’s like to feel the security of a safe home, a goodnight kiss, a full belly or a warm hug. They have had to become wise beyond their years and cynical. This is sad.
As an almost-senior-citizen, I look at the world in much the same way my parents looked at it when I was 17. My parents deplored those long-haired hippies (the Beatles) and thought my music would surely lead me to ruin, along with the mini-skirts and tie dyed t-shirts. I’m not sure that they were aware of the real dangers that were out there – I know I wasn’t, at the time.
But, now I see real dangers for our youth. Many are often misled and misguided instead of being loved and disciplined. Many are growing up feeling that the world owes them, instead of asking what they can do for their country (thanks for that wise statement, President Kennedy). Drugs are everywhere and addiction knows no demographic or socio-economic barrier. Too many college students are graduating with massive amounts of debt and some have no hope of high-paying employment to justify that debt.
This type of thinking is depressing and makes me grateful for all of those wonderful non-profits in our community who attempt to rectify these issues with our youth every day. And, I’m grateful for all of the generous citizens of our community who help to fund those non-profits.
But, today, I am truly grateful to my son and daughter-in-law, along with their village and God for giving me, and allowing me to participate in helping to raise and influence, this wonderful grandson of mine. I love you and am very proud of you, Jacob!