COVID & Senior Year: "The Best is Yet to Come!"
I’m late in sending out this month’s eblast because we are actively preparing for my daughter’s graduation from high school. When I say “graduation” I mean family and friends party because she has decided to not attend graduation. It was a decision I was surprised by because I know professionally how important transitional, ceremonial events are as part of the life chapters.
Throughout this year of COVID, I can’t stop thinking about the massive impact this year and few months are going to play on our youth. I know someone is doing that research as I write. The “loss” of engaging in sports or activities, friends, dating, not having a prom, no formal graduation pictures, no end of year celebrations, or being denied the rite of passages that are important for closure and beginning anew.
As the year was ending, we called her counselor to get her transcripts to register her for her college courses. He has been a great counselor throughout the 4 years because we engaged him, which I highly recommend families know their child’s HS counselor. He said something that struck me. He said, “I want to thank you for not being a family on my list to follow up with. Almost half of our seniors are failing.” HALF! I’m not going to lie…my oldest daughter had to bribe my senior to get her schoolwork in so she COULD graduate! Desperate times require desperate measures. I joked with the counselor that it was truly by the grace of God she was crossing the finish line. He laughed. There were times where I did not!
When my daughter went to get her cap and gown because I made her even though she was forgoing graduation, the counseling office became VERY concerned when she told them she was not attending the ceremony. Concerned enough I got a nice call from Mr. Counselor the same day asking if I knew. I find that funny for some reason. I shared that we were having a big celebration at home but she didn’t feel a connection to her high school anymore. Too much time away had changed her and her alliance to her campus. I thought it was beyond his responsibility to call and do a “mental check-up” on her but that’s the gift of getting to know your counselor.
The reason I’m sharing this experience is, I know we are not the only family having a child disengage from the HS experience. A few months ago, I gave her a quote I found in a store in Fredericksburg that said, “The Best is Yet to Come!” I sincerely and truly believe it. Often, we think of certain chapters as “the best” but when a pandemic happens, it changes the story.
But the most important thing we must do as parents is to stay engaged. Keep talking, empathize with the disappointments, celebrate the little victories, and allow them to chart their own course. Last week, we spent a few days at her college town registering her for classes and doing all of the “prep” work for her to launch in a few months. They asked for a raise of hands from all the parents that this was their first child to go to college. Almost all hands went up. With my background in higher education, especially with transitional phases of student life, I feel I have footing that allows me to have clarity. But for many families and young adults, transitioning and change during a global pandemic makes it even harder.
What I continue to learn through this thing called “parenting,” is grace. Grace for my children, grace for expectations set by society, and most importantly, grace for myself as a parent. What I know for certain is THE best is absolutely to come!