Celebrating milestones is something I am terrible about! I have purposefully worked on setting reminders on my phone for various events such as birthdays of family and our people, work anniverseries of our people, dates of marriages or dates of lost loved ones. But there are also opportunities in celebrating many other achievements be it at home or work with our teams or families. And we must all get better at celebrating our people’s or family’s achievements.
At this current time, there are normally grade school, junior high, high school, and college graduations occurring across the world. These are milestones in lives that are the norm of celebrating, but at this time, no graduations of any kind are happening. And for graduates of med school, vet school, undergraduate, or even high school, there are other lost experiences of a senior year. From senior sneak trips, to vet school senior roast parties, to other traditions I may not be aware of.
There are over 1.2 billion kids in school, K-12, across the globe, and there are over 4,000,000 high school seniors graduating this year in the United States. There will also be over 2,800,000 graduates of undergrad or graduate degree level colleges in the United States. Almost 7,000,000 kids are graduating from milestone worthy celebratory levels of life.
Those things being said, it is unlikely there will be many experience the traditional “baccalaureate” ceremonies and the pomp and circumstances associated with them. This is where we as a people have our greatest opportunity for our kids. We have two choices for the celebratory decision. We can either celebrate the occasion in new unfounded unique ways, of which your kid will likely never forget, or we can focus on the loss of a true real traditional graduation! We can bemoan with them, and say things like, “I feel so sorry for them.” Or “They are missing out on so many great things.” Or “It is so sad for these kids.”
Or we can talk to them and say, “Hey, I know this is less than ideal, but what would you like to do?” Or one can brainstorm with your spouse, grandparents, and siblings, and come up with your unique celebration to never forget. Big picture is, we can have an attitude of gratitude even in a time of loss and use the opportunity to create a celebration of a milestone they may never forget. Or we can focus on the loss, the negative, the bad and the ugly. You see, what you focus on, can be what your kid focuses on at this time. And another aspect is, we as parents tend to make situations bigger for our own emotions and needs, vs what our kid really needs or cares about. Is the celebration more for you or more for your kid?? Our kids have not had any major milestone moments that we have been forced to miss during this time, but we can only imagine the feelings of sadness that some must be feeling as you miss you the opportunity to watch your kids commemorate years of hard work. It’s human nature and completely normal to feel a loss or feel “robbed” of this experience but it’s our job, as their parents, to support them and help them to find the positive and make a lasting memory during this time, even if it’s not the memory we have been picturing in our head for the past several years.
During times like this, it can be difficult to find the positive and the silver lining but it’s up to us to focus on the opportunity, not the loss. It’s up to us to create the optimistic environment for the situation, not the easy complaining pessimistic attitude we often turn to. It’s up to us to create a memory that our graduates will look back on and smile, knowing that they did something no class has ever done before. There are over 7 million kids graduating this year, you aren’t alone, but more importantly, the lifelong stories created from this current pandemic will be much better and bigger in 30 years for them than any other normal, typical, run of the mill graduation ceremony! Let’s celebrate that enormity and milestone!!!