Hooray! We have somehow managed to survive thirteen years of home education and this amazing child is about to graduate. In these final months a multitude of activity fills our calendar. Senior photos, yearbooks, caps & gown, honors, and so much more. Then a passing acquaintance asks a question which sends us into a tailspin, “Where is your daughter going on her senior trip?” Wait… what? What senior trip? You mean that’s a thing!
Apparently so. One acquaintance was sharing the joy her oldest daughter had on her trip to France. Her second daughter was thinking London might be more her style. We’ve had friends who’ve gone to Mexico and others to Hawaii. Sometimes it becomes a family trip, other times one parent adventures with the graduate. On occasion the senior globe-trots with friends.
I’ll confess. These all sound amazing. I would love to be able to do this with and for my children. I would also argue there is nothing wrong with these parents choosing to do so and applaud their desire to bless their children. If they can afford it, why not go for it?
But what about those of us who just… can’t? For whatever reason – finances, work situations, life – prevent us from giving that “Instagram worthy” vacation our children have always dreamed about. Our friends are sharing their fantastic plans. Our children’s friends are sharing their fantastic plans. Social media is presenting the image that everyone else has fantastic plans. And we’re… Well, we were planning on heading to the local ice cream shop, getting two scoops of ice cream and perhaps going to the beach. That comparison game is tough, isn’t it?
Just thinking about it is enough to stress some parents out. Or worse. Start a bout of parental guilt. We bemoan all we cannot do for our children but would like to. We stress that our children will be unhappy or harbor feelings of resentment for not having a life which allows us such pleasures. In short. What started out as a simple question, “What are your plans for a senior trip?” becomes the start of a spiritual battle.
Friends, we’re right there with you. But the enemy doesn’t have to win! It’s all a matter of perspective and thanksgiving. If we choose to focus on the celebration of all God is doing in our child and the plans He has for their future, the momentary event holds less weight in our lives. Graduation is not about the party, but the next step in a grand adventure. How we approach the celebration is entirely up to us! Those two scoops of ice cream and a beach trip can be a wonderful senior trip. As could a picnic in the park, having a family party, or any other way we choose to commemorate the occasion. (Plane tickets need not be involved.) It’s all a matter of perspective and a heart of thanksgiving cultivated in ourselves and our children.
What is truly important is that our child know they are special to us. What matters is that they understand we are proud of their accomplishments and celebrate them, not the event. The ceremony, the certificate, is one tiny step in a bigger adventure. We rejoice together over a job well done and go forth in prayer for the steps to come. Graduation honors God’s faithfulness in bringing us this far and anticipating all He will do in their future. It is thanksgiving, grace, mercy, and love. And that cannot be outshined by exotic locations.
In one short month our oldest girl will be graduated. Honestly, I’m not sure where the time has flown. It seems like we just got started. But here we are. God has indeed been good to us. In so many ways. Our family will celebrate, in our own way. A small trip might be involved. We’ll see. And while I would hope she fondly remembers this small adventure, I hope it is merely one of the many which has brought her to this point. For, in my eyes, this isn’t the cherry on top, but one of the many sprinkles which already decorate the large scoop of life the Lord has put before us.
“And we pray… that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God…”Colossians 1:10
We’re curious… When you graduated, did you have a senior trip?