Younger Son graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago. Hubby and I sat in the audience and sang, “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.” Younger Son’s rite of passage to high school graduate wasn’t automatically assumed. In fact, it came with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears—ours, not his.

Academia, in and of itself, held no attraction for Younger Son. As far as he was concerned, the school existed for the sole purpose of being a life support for his sports. Younger Son ate, slept, and breathed sports. For a long time, he expected the NFL to come knocking on his door with a lucrative offer to play pro football. I think he has finally given up on that idea. So have I, as I would have liked to become accustomed to the fat salary he would have made. Maybe he would have paid us back for the tons of money we spent on him over the years which would have made a nice cushion in our retirement fund.

Though no sports contracts emerged for Younger Son’s future, I still have benefits from his graduating. I no longer have Ren Web popping up in my email every day informing me that he failed to turn in an assignment or failed a test. I no longer have teachers emailing and calling me that he lost a textbook or other piece of school property. I no longer have coaches badgering me about Younger Son’s failure to turn in his sports uniforms and equipment. I no longer have to ask him where his school uniform shirts and pants disappeared to. (He ended up the school year with one shirt.) I no longer have emails notifying me of Younger Son’s detentions for not wearing the proper school uniform. In summary, as far as the school is concerned, I am no longer under obligation to nag Younger Son to do what he was supposed to have taken the responsibility to do in the first place.

With graduation comes a lot of pre-ceremony hoopla to honor the senior students. I sat through two awards ceremonies clapping for other kids who procured profitable sports and academic scholarships or who were otherwise honored for outstanding achievements during the course of their high school career. Younger Son was mentioned for participating in band. Yay! I wandered through the senior boards set up in the gym, many displayed with trophies, ribbons, medals, and other awards for everything the students had accomplished. Younger Son’s board was decorated with pictures. Period. If I’d only known, maybe I could have dug up some old Cub Scout badges, T-ball trophies, or field day participation ribbons.

One graduation ritual I enthusiastically embarked upon was sending out announcements to everyone I ever knew. After years of sending cards and gifts (most of which were never acknowledged) to other people’s kids, I felt I had paid my dues. Younger Son has been receiving a number of cards with cash or checks from generous, kind people who celebrate his success in breathing long enough to make it through high school. However, I am an ogre in that I require him to write thank-you notes, even though that is so “yesterday.” I will say that Younger Son has been cooperative in scribbling out his appreciation for what people have blessed him with. The notes look like something a kindergartener would write but, hey, at least he has the semblance of having been taught good manners. I did have to smack my head against the wall, however, when he addressed his first out-of-town envelope. The kid had NO CLUE! I gave him the envelope the card came in so he could copy the address. He filled his envelope out exactly as the envelope was written—addressed to himself with the return address of the sender. It seems schools apparently don’t teach kids how to address an envelope anymore because, after all, who writes letters in this day and age? I had to cringe at the realization that he was taught Algebra 2, which he will be unlikely to ever use, but not how to address a simple envelope.

Younger Son decided that since the NFL didn’t draft him, he wanted to go into the Army after graduation. He enlisted last September and will be leaving for basic training in July. I am proud of Younger Son for wanting to serve his country. We can all rest easier knowing that our country is being defended by someone who cannot address an envelope.