Next Gen: The first graduation

By Susanna Barbee | Jun 04, 2014
Mrs. Downs's Graduating Class of 2014 from First Methodist Child Development CenterFront Row (LtoR): Brenda Stiles  (foster grandmother), Brooks Barbee, Mollie Eason, Kallie Francis, Elizabeth Evans, Luke LaFata, Lance Morgan, Charlotte Smith, Molly WatsonBack Row (LtoR): Emily Drewnoski, Noah Earwood, Mrs. Susan Downs (teacher), Dillon Vanhook, Kinsley Snipes

Last week, we experienced the first of many graduations as our little boy concluded a phase of his young life and graduated from preschool.  I know that before I can blink an eye he will be graduating kindergarten, then fifth grade, then eighth grade, then high school.

Throughout preschool, I have watched my child grow in size, maturity, and intellect. I have witnessed him strengthen old friendships and make new ones. I have watched him eagerly walk to the car each morning because he loves his school. I have seen him explore our town on field trips, participate in fundraisers, enjoy Halloween carnivals, and sing on stage during programs. I have watched him love his teachers, directors, and foster grandparents with such ferocity, it melts my heart.

These moments in a young child’s life shape his character forever. The intangible lessons my son learned throughout preschool will serve as a foundation as he begins elementary school in the fall and takes on new challenges and experiences.

I remember my own preschool graduation quite vividly. It was an exciting day, and I recall feeling giddy. After graduation, all of the students and families went to my teacher’s house to play and cook out. We had a very similar experience last week when we enjoyed a fun post-graduation party at the home of another child who graduated. I know if my own memories are still clear in my mind, my little boy will remember his big day as well.

As our son and his peers marched in to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance wearing their small caps and gowns, heads held high, they were visibly proud of themselves. It was clear that all of them felt they could take on the world at that very moment. I hope they maintain that sense of confidence and adventure. I hope their smiles continue to shine so brightly.

Many things change once you become a parent. I now know why graduation days are so emotional. The feelings of pride and joy parents feel for their children when they watch them accomplish something are overwhelming. The feelings of sadness, too, are quite intense as one realizes a chapter is closed forever.

There were many tears shed in the sanctuary of First Methodist Church last Friday as the little graduates received their diplomas, smiled for pictures, and hugged their teachers. I admittedly cried some, but I was also excited for I know my child is ready to move on. That’s the challenging part for me as a parent. Sometimes I wish time would stand still so a moment doesn’t pass too quickly, but that is simply not reality.

Though preschool graduation may seem insignificant to some, when compared to other, seemingly more important graduations, it’s the most pivotal one to me. It is the beginning. And beginnings are always memorable and special because the journey has only just begun.

Susanna Barbee is a Waynesville mom, writer, and educator. Find more on her blog, Reach her at