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My nephew graduated this week. We were, unfortunately, too far away and had too many local obligations to make the ten hour trip to see him receive his diploma and celebrate with him. We miss a lot of family milestones living so far away. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t take the opportunity to send him our love (and a little something else) and talk to him that day to congratulate him.

We kept the conversation lighthearted, but we tried to impart some wisdom to him in the card.

This is the start of summer, but it’s the end of his high school career. It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new life for him.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Oh the places he’ll go.

We want to him to know how proud we are, but we also want to know if he’s ready for the challenges he’ll face. We want him to remember the values of hard work, determination, and morality he was taught. And while it’s important that he start learning independence, we also want him to know he always has people he can turn to for support.

Of course, we didn’t really need to tell him any of it. Not only did his parents and his grandparents and his older brother and his other aunts and uncles tell him the same things, this kid is the definition of dependable. If you’re worried about the future of our country, you can rest a little easier knowing he’ll be one of the people in charge of it someday.

In the novel I just completed (release date still to be determined), it’s not the adults who impart wisdom on the graduate, but rather the graduate who shares a few wise words via his valedictory address.

I think sometimes, as adults, we forget these kids are growing up in a different world than we did. They grow up faster, they learn more, they have the world at their fingertips from the time they are born. And while rushing through their childhoods isn’t always a good thing, the “kids” graduating today are leaving high school with more knowledge than we ever did, and with more skills and capabilities than we credit them with.

Maybe it’s time we stop and listen to them once in a while.

For Writers:
If you have any children or young adults in your WIPs, consider using them not as the cute secondary character or the subplot that complicates something for the main characters, but possibly as the character who offers the sage advice the main character needs to hear. There’s a reason the saying, “From the mouths of babes,” has been around for so long. Kids have a tendency to tell the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. Maybe in your story it’s not the wise old wizard with all the answers. Maybe it’s just a kid who sees things clearly.

For Everyone:
It’s graduation season. For all the graduates out there, congratulations! Celebrate, but be safe. And best wishes as you embark on the next stage of life’s journey.

So readers, what do you think? Do you have a wise kid in your life whose story you’d like to share? Let’s talk about it.


7 Responses

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  2. Staci You are speaking my language my main character lands himself smack dab in an old peoples home and his knowledge and thinking out of the box changes everyone around him. He is only thirteen but like you say kids know so much more and have every answer at their finger tips. My daughter has been googling images of exotic animals to draw and is teaching herself Mandarin Chinese. I tell her how lucky she is, all we had were a couple of dated encyclopaedias as our research and they have the world.

    • I can’t wait until you have that book done, Kath. Kids do enrich the lives of the people around them, if they’re given the chance to. And good for your daughter! (My daughter is teaching herself Korean!)

  3. Lovely piece, Staci. I’ve thought about these passages this past month as well. A niece, great nephew, and great niece all completed degrees of one sort of another and to each I attempted to give tiny snippets of the wisdom I’m supposed to have gained by now.

    • Isn’t it funny that we have to qualify and say, “supposed to have gained,” like we’re still unsure? Possibly because we’re still kids at heart ourselves? I actually wrote a post last year that might be of use, advice-wise. I attended my daughter’s middle school graduation, and one of the speakers had some really wonderful things to say that I still hold in my heart. ( In fact, I made use of some of that advice three times since then for messages to nieces and nephews in graduation cards!

  4. I have a nephew who is about to finish his sophomore year of high school. He is very smart and has a level head on his shoulders. I agree with many of the kids I know who are graduating (or about to graduate) there is a lot of wisdom. The news media tends to report only the bad things about kids and not the good stuff which can lead many to have serious doubts about our future leaders.

    • I agree, Joan. Our nieces and nephews and our own kids were all raised to have a strong sense of right and wrong. We have no doubts about their character. We’re also lucky that they happen to be smart and concerned with civic conditions and the political climate. If we’re raising our kids that way, I know others are, too. The media does portray a bleak tale, but I know there are two sides to every story. I’m choosing to focus on the “happily ever after” ending that I know is possible.

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