May 26

And Just Like That, We Have a High Schooler

Someone please tell me I don’t look old enough to have a high school student or a kid that’s only 16.5 months from being 16 years old. He will be legally able to drive, get a job, and make serious life decisions about who he wants to be when he ‘grows up’ … which I’m pretty sure will happen if I blink one too many times.

I’m feeling old, you guys.

Last night we attended Daniel’s middle school graduation ceremony. We got there a little over an hour early because I wanted to get good seats. I spent all day working on painting my nails, washing and styling my hair, buying waterproof mascara, and carefully applying makeup in a manner so that I wouldn’t look like a drowned rat if I cried.

I sat there with Randy and our three younger kids, and listened as they ran through the list of names, in alphabetical order. Some cheers were louder than others, some kids refused to make eye contact with the crowd while some skipped in and waved and grinned from ear to ear; it was interesting to see that middle school hasn’t changed much since I attended. With each name called, Randy bounced his knee like he does when he’s feeling feelings and our younger three craned their necks trying to get a glimpse of their big brother.

And then it happen. They called his name. Danny Durham. And I had to legitimately press my lips together to hide the sob that desperately wanted to escape, releasing the lump of emotions held in my throat since we moved to Colorado.

You see, when we lived in California … the school system was horrific. Like a train wreck that can’t be helped, except to jump out of the way – which is exactly why we moved mid-school year. Danny was not finding success there – the education system is subpar, to put it kindly. We had so many meetings with the teachers and administrators, and when the 8th grade guidance counselor told us he was doing “just fine” with his grades all at dangerously low Cs or below with a couple Fs … that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We made the decision that day to move back to Colorado, we just didn’t tell anyone about it for a while.

Since moving here, it’s been an incredible journey. Watching Danny’s grades improve, his maturity deepen, and coming out of an educational funk has been like watching a rare, long-awaited flower bloom at midnight. You pray about it, you do everything you can to cultivate it, and you wait … and you wait. And when it happens? It’s pure fucking magic.

Watching him make eye contact with all of his teachers, shaking their hands, grinning ear to ear, and finally shaking the hands of his principal … one of the proudest moments of my life. I see the trajectory he’s on, and every moment of stress, every moment of doubt and fear and feeling guilty about moving back away from California and my family – all of it, in that moment last night, was worth it. And seeing his teachers give him a heartfelt congratulations – seeing the pride in their eyes … well, the little sob that tried to escape made it’s way out. I was able to take photos until he got to the principal, and then I had to set my camera down and live in the moment. To breathe it in, exhale it out and watch him walk a little taller, toward his next adventure in life.

Randy snapped this iPhone video of Danny making his way across the room so we can always remember this! Side note, the lighting in the gymnasium was terrible. #photographerproblems hahaha!

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And just like that, we have a high schooler!

Falcon middle school graduation ceremony, we have a high schooler

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