Commencement thoughts for my daughter
Posted by Arlene Somerton Smith
The gist of it was, my daughter’s graduating, and it would normally be a time for me to pass on some wisdom to her, but she is already so far ahead of where I was at the same age, I simply said, “Carry on.” When I finished, though, one thing did pop into my head, so I dashed off a final line.
In light of some heartbreaking news we heard about 2 hours after I finished that draft, that final line is eerie.
A classmate of my daughter’s was killed in a bicycle accident.
My daughter says he was one of the nicest people she’s ever met. He had plans to be a doctor. Today would have been his graduation day. It’s unspeakably sad. The ceremony today could not be about celebrating. It was about passages, in whatever form they take.
Below is the post as I wrote it originally:
Here is a story that will tell you everything you need to know about my daughter:
She was in Grade 5—the age when girls start to get mean. She arrived home from school and bounced in the door happy, happy, same as always.
“How was your day?” I asked.
“Good,” she said.
About 5 minutes later, my phone rang. The mother of one of my daughter’s friends was on the line. “How’s Raye?” she asked, with a tone that suggested that our dog had just died.
I looked over at my daughter on the couch—happy, happy—munching tortilla chips and salsa. “Fine,” I said, “Why?”
“Oh, my daughter came home in tears, she was so upset. She said the girls at school were so mean to Raye today. They picked on her all day. They wouldn’t play with her at recess, and they told her they were glad that she wasn’t invited to a birthday party.”
I thanked my friend and hung up.
I sat beside my daughter and said, in my best caring, concerned mother voice, “You know, if you have a bad day, you don’t have to tell me everything that happened. You can just tell me that you’ve had a bad day, and I’ll try to help you out.”
She gave me a look that suggested I had started to go a little dotty. “O-o-0-k-a-a-y,” she said.
“Well, she said that the girls at school were really mean to you today.”
“Ppppfffff,” she waved away my concern. “I don’t worry about that. They’ll be my friends again tomorrow.”
I couldn’t speak, I was so astonished at such wisdom coming from my daughter at such a young age.
Women four times her age would wish for that kind of self-assurance. Some women never find it. That day was a turning point in our relationship. I realized I didn’t have to worry about her. She was going to do just fine.
Today she graduated from high school. I searched my soul for some profound wisdom that I could pass on to her, but everything I came up with, she already does better than I do. So all I’ll say to her as she commences a new phase in her life is, “Carry on. You’re doing fine.”
Oh, and wear that bicycle helmet.