For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Joy And Grief of Homeschool Graduation Revisted Yet Again

This is a revisiting of a post from 4 years ago when our oldest daughter graduated, which I then repeated last year when our oldest son graduated.  Some of what follows is copied unashamedly word-for-word from those posts regarding the pros and cons of homeschooling and the positives and negatives of graduation and our goals as parents, etc.  The rest has been changed to reflect on our third graduation experience…

Let me try to say this without offending anyone: Public school parents have no idea what we’re going through right now. I’m not saying that parents who send their children to government run schools don’t love their children as much as we do; or that they are more sad or less proud of their graduates than we are; or anything like that. But, it is very, very different.

Until you’ve spent 18 years with that child in your home every day (well, nearly every day. Except for orchestra days and field trips and library runs and horse training days and homeschool co-op days and; you get the idea); until you’ve bought those text books with your own money for 12 years; spent those 12 years sweating day by day along with that child through all of those subjects and assignments, worried more about your teaching than their learning at times; until you’ve experienced the sacrifices in time and money and energy to provide those 12 years of education while at the same time building a bond together as parent and child, teacher and student, discipler and disciple, etc. Until you’ve done these things you can’t possibly understand the joy and grief of watching your child graduate.

Our delightful daughter Katrina had her graduation this past Sunday. It was a very emotional time for us. This was our third graduate, and our second completely homeschooled child.  (Her big sister went to kindergarten in government school).  Though we’ve been through it twice before, in a sense, it doesn’t change the raging emotions involved in this whole process.

To say we’re proud of her doesn’t begin to describe it. God has grown her into a remarkable young lady, and like I said with her sister and brother before her, Mom and I can only take partial credit for that. God is truly gracious to us, doing things in her life in spite of the many mistakes we’ve made over the years.

During the service, Latrina played her guitar and read some of her poetry.  Her writing strength is really in her prose, especially her fantasy stories, but we thought folk might get antsy listening to novel length readings..  She then gave a short, but impressive speech (which we forced her to do!), telling us about her experiences and how thankful she is to God and to her family for this part of the journey. Many tears were shed.

We've had the kids ask someone whom they looked up to, someone who was an inspiration to them to give a graduation charge.  I cried when introducing the fact that Katrina asked her big sister to do this.  And LoriAnn brought an amazing, humorous and very personal address.  Being a "geek" family, the challenge was based on the idea of Marvel's Avengers and several of the hero qualities of the various personalities.  Captain America's strength of purpose in protecting his values, a warning about Tony Stark's ego overshadowing his gifts, and Hawkeye's aiming for the targets all were mentioned with comparisons to Scriptural commands.  She manged to throw in lines and references to just about all of our geeky fandoms: Star Trek, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Lord of the Rings, etc.  Some folks present might not have gotten all the jokes, but it was special between these two sisters, especially.

Mom, of course, then came and shared some Scripture and presented Katrina with her diploma, followed by a prayer of dedication for this precious little girl.

We are proud. We are joyful (she is our Joy, Joy!) We are also saddened by this rite of passage in which our daughter is now an “adult.”  She plans to go to college, but is currrently on the waiting list at College of the Ozarks.  In the meantime, she's working at Dairy Queen.  Can't say I'm all that disappointed.  With her big sister off to Germany, I'm thankful to have her around awhile.  Not only do we share similar tastes in music and in literature and in those geeky fandoms, but I simply love having my baby girl around.  She promised me (when she was four) that she would never grow up.  But as she said in her speech, as much as she might want to keep that promise, God has other plans.  And His plans are always best.  Besides, I'm sure her guitar class will love having her teach another year!

Quite frankly, I feel for parents who didn’t get to spend this kind of time with their children; missing out on at least 8 hours a day with them; a minimum of 40 hours a week in which you didn’t get to experience life and growth with them. Of course, I’m not so sure I’d miss the added grief this causes when it’s all over. As I said before, I’m not saying other parents miss their children less because they weren’t homeschooled. It’s just very different.  The years of investing in Katrina both spiritually and educationally have been tiring, but worth every minute.

In the end, our goal has not been to churn out a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Though we are proud of her accomplishments in music and writing and teaching and animal raising and so on; we are most pleased and proud of her faith and maturity. Our goal has simply been to see her become a fully devoted follower of Christ and a godly woman in this sinful world. God has been gracious in granting that goal.

The joy and the grief. Quite a mixture of feelings. I believe that while all parents feel those, they are intensified for homeschool parents (you can argue with me later, this is my “moment”!). But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s been a long, often difficult road; but by the grace of God it has all been worth it.

So congratulations, Katrinal. We are indeed proud of you. You may be third in line in a lot of ways, but you have an unrivaled place in our hearts that noting can change.  No matter what you decide to do, may God continue to guide your steps each and every day as you seek to exalt Him in all you do.

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