My daughter graduated high school last night; she's the youngest, and so this was a milestone evening.
There were 400 graduates; each got introduced to receive their diploma, and it was great to see Laura cross the stage, beaming, and get a quick hug from the principal. She's worked hard and done well, achieved a solid GPA, stayed out of trouble, and became a confident and self-assured adult. She'll do great.
The commencement address was given by a local radio talk show host, Dori Monson. He did a credible job, keeping it short and maintaining focus on the graduates. His theme was "Lessons for a life well lived" and he had four recommendations: Take control of your own life, Be competitive, Set explicit goals, and Surround yourself with good people. His second point seemed overstated, though. I agree that there are no prizes for second place when competing for a job or an account, so you have to be prepared to work harder than the next guy. At the same time, working smarter, working cooperatively, and keeping a balanced perspective are also important and straight social darwinism is a recipe for stress and disappointment.
As a parent, it's a funny feeling. On the one hand, it's a culmination and recognition of everything we've done together as a family during the past 20 years, and I am proud and happy. On the other, it's over: Will reports for the service in a few weeks, Laura for college soon after, and a new phase of life begins. It's almost wholly undetermined right now: what I will work at, where I will live, what pastimes to pursue, what relationship to nuture. When children were in the house, they were taken into account in all of those decisions. Now it's simpler.
Anyway, it's certainly a time for celebrating and looking forward to all of our futures!