Graduation 2016: One Parent’s Graduation Reflections

Editor’s note: Ms. Gibalerio was a columnist for Belmont Patch with a distinct and clear-eyed view of domestic life in Belmont. Here is her parent’s view of graduation. 

By Lisa Gibalerio

My son Benjamin will graduate from Belmont High School on Sunday. Like so many of my fellow Belmont parents at such a juncture, I am a mishmash of emotions: proud, bewildered, excited, and concerned.

High school graduation is one milestone among a lifetime of milestones. As parents, we cajoled and cheered and bore witness as our babies learned to sit up, to crawl, to walk, to run, to zoom off on bikes, to glide across slick ice on skates at the Viglirolo Rink, to pass the deep end test at the Underwood Pool, and to (finally) pass the driving test.

We watched our children enter elementary school, then, in the blink of an eye, they were “Moving On” to the Chenery. And all the while there were the innumerable play dates, music lessons, soccer practices, BYBA practices, and orthodontia appointments. Lots and lots of orthodontia appointments.

Finally, the high school years arrived: a blur of academics, activities, afterschool jobs, stress, duress, late nights, Driver’s Ed, SATs, AP courses, ACTs, the Common App, Senior Thesis, and, in our case, rehearsals, hours upon hours of rehearsals.

About raising kids, someone has said: “the days are long, but the years are fast.” That was spot on.  Raising a child is relentless and at the same time it’s over in a nanosecond.

So in less than 12 weeks, I will drop Benjy off on a college campus and wonder if I taught him enough in the 18 plus years he was in my care.

There are a few things that I hope he knows: To wear sun block. To floss. To say Thank You and Please.  That hard work often yields good results. That sunsets, full moons, and star-filled skies are universe freebies and must be relished.

But I also fear I am sending him off into the world armed with a bundle of contradictions: “Exercise good judgment, but for goodness sake take some risks!” “Be humble, but confident!” “Work hard, but stop and smell those flowers!”

He’ll figure it out the way we all do, by engaging in this gift called life. There will be missteps and mishaps and triumphs and joys. And, I hope, many more milestones waiting down the road.

[To Benjamin, if you’re reading this: I wish you all good things! Be brave and kind and daring and resilient. And please, remember to floss and wear sunblock!]

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  1. Lorrie L McLeod Gotalski says

    Congratulations to you and your family! You have shared these thoughts and emotions beautifully. I will be thinking of you in August as you prepare for the college drop off. I’ve done it once. I have one more to go. It was extremely difficult letting her go that summer! Now she’s heading into her junior year and once again we marvel at how fast time flies. She does an amazing job with everything she does especially spending time with loved ones. I still ask from time to time if she remembers to wear her retainers. Now I know the meaning of once a mother always a mother. I wish you and your family all the best as you head out on this wonderful journey?

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