My youngest son finished high school today. It was touch and go there for a little while, but he managed to do all that was required of him. True, he did it the hard way, but he comes by that trait honestly enough. What he might have missed in academic respects he has more than made up for in qualities that can only really be learned through experience: Perseverance, courage, patience and perhaps the hardest quality for a teenager to grasp, acceptance. He has had to walk through many obstacles - most of his own creation, but he never gave up.
When my children pass big milestones such as this, I get reflective. I will often feel my age and wonder where the time has gone. And although there is that element to be sure, there is also a sense of completion. All three of my boys have now truly entered adulthood. Moreover, they are just beginning their journey… the world is at their feet; the future is at their command. My job is not finished, however. It never will be, but my role has absolutely changed - almost overnight.
They are not yet self-sufficient; my support is still a necessity. But support goes well beyond financial. Guidance and encouragement, although not actively sought after, are still among those essentials that I will provide to my kids. For the most part, the heavy hand of fatherhood will be replaced with a more diplomatic version. Although I am still king of my castle, I now preside over subjects who are capable of thinking for themselves. Persuasion, not dictation, is the order of the day.
That is not to say that I am abdicating anything. It is, however, recognition of a never-changing fact of life… it is ever-changing. It is time to begin a new chapter as the last has come to a happy ending. A new adventure is around the corner and I think we are all relieved for that.