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OPINION: Life does move fast, so slow down and enjoy graduation season

June is a time to be sentimental, soak up the sun and start planning for adulthood
It’s that time of year again, when parents are sentimental and kids just want to have fun. (Adobe Stock)

The end of the school year is a time that has always tugged at my heart.

When I was a young child, it was a time for silly sports days followed by freezies as the big reward. In primary school, those days were best spent laying in the grass with the early heat of the summer beating down on us all, just a scraggly bunch of 1980s Richmond kids.

We were just so eager to be released into the wild for two whole months, running home with a year’s worth of art projects shoved in our backpacks. We were ready to roam the side streets on our banana-seat bicycles, or catch frogs in the ditches, all while throwing back gallons of Kool-Aid — on the days we weren’t drinking from the hose.

As we got older, our summers included hanging out in cool basements, hiding from the heat and peering out to watch the boys play street hockey in the various cul-de-sacs where we all lived.

Then there was the summer after high school graduation, which will forever live in my mind as that one blissful summer of absolute freedom — only slightly marred by the nagging knowledge that adulthood was right around the corner. Like it happens with many, that summer turned into a year as I weighed the options ahead of me and held off, just a little bit, on growing up.

Into parenthood not long after that, I was guiding my own children through this repetitive rite of passage every June. And with that, the meaning behind it all became more layered, more emotional, and honestly, way more work.

There were school years that ended in tears and chaos, those that ended with us all beaming with pride, and still more that passed by without much ado about anything. No matter how they wrapped up each grade, I absolutely without fail, could find some reason to cry just a little.

I’m such a sucker for sentimentality, and those school teachers, administrators, lunch supervisors and fellow parents could always be counted on to provide just the right phrases to make me melt like a forgotten popsicle. Oftentimes, I’ve shared those sentiments in this very column space.

But it’s been a few years since the last of my three sons graduated (in a strange, nearly solitary pandemic-friendly ceremony), and until I saw the layout for this week’s paper, I had almost let this graduation season pass by unnoticed. It makes sense, I suppose, since I won’t be watching any award ceremonies, or cheering at the Coliseum as they cross that stage. There are also no report cards to go over, or teachers to thank, and no nervous drumming as we await final marks.

There are also no recitals or final sporting events. No track meets, playoffs. There aren’t even any grad parties to supervise.

It’s just June. How bizarre. And oh, so quiet.

And now that I’ve been reminded of what I’m missing out on, I think I’m going to relish in it.

I do feel for the parents who are busily chasing their children around from event to event, tracking down last-minute assignments to help bring grades up, and looking for those overdue library books.

But I’ll pass along this little, annoying, overused message that older people told me while I was running in circles and was wishing I had a clone: “This too shall pass.”

It will pass so quickly that you’ll wonder where the time went. It will pass whether you want it to, or not. It will pass so quickly you’ll wonder why you stressed the little things. It will pass so quickly, you’ll wonder if that’s what caused your neck to hurt, or if that’s just old age setting in.

And to the grads, I would say the same refrain. I hope this summer ahead of you will be filled with golden moments. But just know that it will pass by so quickly that it may seem cruel at times. Each setting sun is another day closer to adulthood, for better and for worse.

In the infamous words of my generation’s favourite absentee student, Ferris Bueller: ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ (June 5, 1985)

So enjoy that summer sun (safely, please) as it warms your skin. Spend quality time with your friends, and enjoy every minute of the next few months.

Plan your future so carefully, that when the time comes to step away from the neighbourhoods where you played, and the friends who you grew up with, and the family who did their best to raise you, you can do it so boldly that you won’t even notice them standing on the porch waving goodbye.

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Jessica Peters is the editor of the Chilliwack Progress.

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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