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Commencement commences tonight with the kick off of my younger son’s 8th grade dance and my wonderful borrowed ‘daughter’ Alexa’s high school graduation followed by my amazing niece Gabriella’s high school graduation on Friday in New York. How the distance hurts when there are family milestones to miss. I tell my kids I will always do them a favor and live very close to them wherever they go. Yes, doesn’t sound very appealing to them right now but I have learned how important that is after having spent a lifetime away from mine.

Some memories from this week as my blog is time lapsed. At Max’s dance a young man that he has been in class with since kindergarten got up in front of the whole class at the dance and sang an amazing rendition of the old ditty Come and Get Your Love. When they were in kindergarten together Max used to come home and ask me why this boy didn’t speak or look at him or couldn’t go out on the playground and play. It was a difficult conversation to explain autism to a 5 year old. I did the best I could at the time. In second grade, the school initiated a program whereby they asked peers to spend their lunchtime a few days a week in a classroom playing board games with special needs kids who were not quite ready for the school yard experience. Max was chosen and he did it. All the A’s in grades could not make me prouder than I was of him for being chosen and more important his acceptance of it.

The night of graduation, Max decided to throw himself a little party of some 20 odd kids at the last minute. He came in to the living room and as excited as could be told me Kennedy can actually come to the party, his parents are letting him. This is the little boy who Max couldn’t understand why he couldn’t fully play with him all those years ago. This was the little boy that Max played with at lunchtime in the classroom in second grade. This was the same young man who got up and sang his heart out at the dance the night before. And this was the same young man who smiled and gave me a big hug thank you on this way out of my house the other night. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful and great it was to see how this young man blossomed and flourished in these past 9 years. He will be going to high school with Max and there is a lot more good years to come I’m sure for him.

Another thing happened at the end of the dance as I was busy helping kids to leave with the proper parent, not that any sane adult would want to take an 8th grader home with them that they weren’t legally obligated to. Max and Onate and Josh were off to the side waiting for me and all of sudden sobbing the likes of which you usually hear at the open grave of an Italian funeral came from their direction as Principal Susie was making a futile attempt at consolation. Onate has been Max’s friend since just about kindergarten, despite my best efforts.   These boys are so close and Onate is moving away after school ends and the knowledge of that overwhelmed all three of them plus two other nearby girls as common tears will do. Usually if my sons cry their eyes out it would upset me so and I would want to fix the source or eliminate it altogether. Not this time. I was proud that my son could show that much emotion and heartache over losing a friend. My kids, like me, are not the most emotionally demonstrative human beings on the planet. It showed me this week just what kind of young man I am putting out into this world. Max is the most stubborn, argumentative, my way or the high way, unparentable child I have ever seen. Well some say my mother saw one as well. But I will take that bad with the good I saw in my son’s heart this week any day.

Whether it’s a bridge to high school, college or to life, these events mark the passages of time from childhood to adult. My older one is in a gap year. It hasn’t been easy for either one of us really. If that gap turns into a chasm however we’ll need to talk. When he mentions college,  well I was very excited about it a year ago but now not so much since I spent his college money on concerts and plays.

Such an emotional week it was of course as the huge gap of our lost AJ looms largest with the firsts of all the missing events throughout this year. This week especially brought tears and joy. The joy comes from discovering so much amazing music this week by Paul McCartney. What can I say, music in my life is a priority these days. I need a soundtrack just to brush my teeth. The song I chose to send Alexa this morning for her graduation as it brought tears yesterday upon first hearing it but so reminded me of the commencing kids this week is Hope for the Future. I found out later it was written by Sir Paul for the video game Destiny. It warmed my heart to be led to this song, as no one was more of gamer when young than her brother.

This week brings the near end to the fours of everything we shared with our neighbors and friends raising our four children: four Lincoln 5th grade promotion Fun Days, four Casimir 8th grade promotion dances, four 8th grade Casimir graduations, three North High graduation ceremonies and three North High grad nights. There is one North High graduation and grad night left now to complete the mandatory portion of the path to their futures.

What it holds for the remaining three past that portion remains to be seen. We can only trust that we have given the world some decent people. As a parent I don’t think I can ask for more than that. I have no aspiration for my kids to be rich or famous or infamous. I don’t strive for perfection in them either. O that ship has sailed.   I want my sons discerning and honest and happy and joyful and putting some good into the world. That’s all I can hope for. Congratulations Max, Alexa and Gabriella. And Marco? Well Happy End of Gap Year, Gap.



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