Having been named class salutatorian, Renegade gave a speech today at graduation. And there was a lot of drama surrounding the speech, but it all came off very well. It’s amazing (to me, anyhow) that the boy who we once feared would have trouble in school has accomplished so much in his life. It’s been a long road, one that’s been rockier than I thought it would be. He’s gone to five elementary schools in eight years, mostly because we kept trying to find the right fit and had a fairly difficult time of it. But he’s heading to a wonderful high school in the fall, one accepted only 4.45% of its 6,000 applicants this year — and that’s huge. It wasn’t just his dream school; it was his impossible school, and the day he received the acceptance letter was, no doubt, one of the best of his life.
Everyone in Renegade’s life has worked so hard to bring him to this day…all the extra teaching work I took to pay for private-school tuition, all the conferences we sat in with teachers who didn’t understand the challenges of gifted students, all the hard decisions that were made to make sure he got the best education we could manage for him. Today, he had a father, a stepfather, a mother, a stepmother, a grandmother, an aunt, and a little brother (a motley crew if there ever were one) watching him up on that stage — and we were all bursting at the seams with pride. Our collective visions of him as a baby, a toddler, a child, a boy… they all morphed into the young man standing in front of us, and hearing his classmates and their family members in the audience whoop and holler and applaud as he was done speaking just made me want to stand up and shout, “That’s my boy!” (which, of course, would have been completely mortifying for him).
It hasn’t been an easy road for him, and I know there are challenges that lie ahead. And yet… it’s okay, for today, for now, for a while, to linger in this moment, to remember this day, to be proud and loud and even a little wistful for all the years that have passed. Because, no doubt about it, an entirely new chapter of life began this afternoon, and I’m as least as scared about the next few years as I am excited for all of the new challenges — and accomplishments — that are sure to come.
He doesn’t read this blog, but if he did, I’d say the same thing I did today: “Bug, I’m so proud of you, and I love you.”