"School's out for the summer.. . school's out forever!"
- Alice Cooper
It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since we played Alice Cooper's song over and over again at graduation. It's amazing to me how it's still played across the country every year at graduation time.
"No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks."
So congratulations! You made it through 12-plus years of public
your brains intact. For 12 years they have told you where to be and what to take, with bells to remind you where to go next.
Rarely in life will everything be so neatly laid out for you again. Unless you join the military.
So now what? Some of you may have that all laid out and planned as well. Good for you. Others aren't so sure.
What you have really accomplished is that you have earned your beginning "ticket" for the rest of your life.
Here's what I mean.
My family moved to Orlando in 1971, six months before Disney World opened. Back then you didn't just pay one general admission and ride anything you wanted.
You had to buy a coupon book, with tickets that ranged from A to E. An A ticket would get you on all the little stuff like Dumbo's Wild Ride or the carousel. You had to use an E ticket to get on things like The Haunted Mansion or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
It's much the same with education and life. By passing all those courses that you may never use (it's true), you have gotten your A, maybe even your B ticket for life.
Those who don't get this far stand a fair chance of spending a good part of their working lives saying "Would you like fries with that, ma'am?" or "Do you prefer paper or plastic, sir?"
What you do next can increase or limit the range of options you have in life. As you consider what your next move might be, think about this quote:
"If you do now what other people are not willing to do, you will be able to do later what other people can't do."
And here are a few words for the parents of the graduates. I trust by now you realize that the world they are about to enter is dramatically different than the one we entered 30 or more years ago.
As you prepare to launch your child/young adult into the world, remember the words of Mark Twain: "When I was 17, I thought my old man was the dumbest person in the world. Then when I turned 21, it was amazing how much he had learned in four years."
They will still have difficulty listening to you. They will make mistakes. Give them room to do both of those things and to find their way back to you when they need you.
And they will.
It's also time for parents to begin to shift their focus a bit. Instead of concentrating on what you might want to make them do, begin to consider what you are going to do.
In closing, here are a few more tips for the graduate. Although you may have a dress rehearsal for graduation, there is no dress rehearsal for life. This is live and real.
Before you receive that diploma, find someone who invested in your life during these past four years and simply thank them.
You'll make their day, or more.
Visit http://www.ParentingYourTeenager.com for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. For regular weekly tips you can subscribe to our f-ree Parenting Your Teenager Newsletter. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring.