Editor’s Note

Thousands of chairs line Alumni Lawn in anticipation of Commencement day. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

The other day, my friend Kelly mentioned something about attending her son’s graduation before she and her family leave for summer vacation. I did a double take. Graduation? Our sons are the same age. They’re in kindergarten. Kindergarten.

It never occurred to me that parents might formally celebrate the completion of their child’s first year of formal schooling. My first reaction, as is typical of me, was panic. Was I supposed to plan a party for my boy? Reserve a room? Was it too late to order invitations and a personalized cake?

To be fair, Kelly’s child attends a private school where they hold a special ceremony for outgoing kindergarteners – whereas at my son’s public school, they do not. But all the same, in that moment, I felt like I’d dropped the ball.

It’s a familiar feeling. Last fall I not so willingly entered the daunting world of school uniforms, permission slips, book reports, science projects and tardy bells.

While my son took to school like a fish to water, this working mom of a certain age (ahem!) found herself in tears on more than one occasion as her baby dashed out of the car and up the school steps in his mismatched socks with little more than a “Bye, Mom.”

Even though kindergarten was supposed to be about him (and he was loving every minute of it), all I could think about was how I wasn’t doing it right. All I could see were my failures: the missed field trips, the lapsed room mother duties and my less-than-exciting sack lunches.

It’s humbling to realize that despite my misdirected (and somewhat narcissistic) fearfulness, he has thrived. [rquote]And now that kindergarten is nearly over, I am awash with grace and gratitude for the opportunity I have been given to watch this remarkable child grow ever more independent, wise and strong.[/rquote]

So as you pass the rows of Commencement chairs on Vanderbilt’s campus, as you encounter the giddy gown-clad students and beaming parents and piles of strawberries, I hope you will be proud. Not just for the graduates, but for yourself, too. Whatever you’ve accomplished (or simply survived) over the past year, take a moment to reflect, be thankful and rejoice.