My son graduates from Houston High School tomorrow.
I guess it is cliche to say I remember bringing him home from the hospital and softly laying him in that carefully prepared crib.
In retrospect, taking care of a newborn baby was the easy part. Turning that young man loose in the world is the part that has so recently squeezed my heart.
Robert Jacob Ingram turned 18 last month and has recently had to make some very big decisions about his future. At this point in his life we are pleased with the choices he has made.
Raising a child so they can take care of themselves is the role of a parent.
I’ve seen some parents who have done very little preparing their kids for the real world and I’ve seen others who seem to never want to cut the apron strings. I hope Sara and I have been able to strike that happy medium.
Advice to all graduates
So you are ready to be adults?
I hope someone has told you that this milestone in your life does not grant you new freedom, rather it allows you to strap on new responsibilities.
You will pick new friends, buy new cars, land new jobs and move to new places. Yes, spouses, babies, houses and stacks of bills are waiting for you in this bright new world.
Please don’t think I’m being cynical. Graduation Day is one of the most exciting days of your life. But it truly is a new beginning and not an end to 12-years of formal education.
I hope you are thankful for the people who have helped you so far. Parents should top the list.
Somebody has footed the bill for you in the form of keeping you fed, clothed and housed for the past 18 years. We don’t necessarily get in this business for the thank-you’s, but they are appreciated.
I was once told by a parent that you are not an adult until you are capable of financially providing for yourself without anybody else’s help.
I hope you will also thank the teacher or teachers who have had an impact on your education.
For those of you going to college, the professors you’ll have next year will care little for your family, the grade you make or even your general well-being.
The teachers who had the most impact on your life are those who cared.
Maybe they helped you with a difficult concept, maybe they just helped you through a difficult time in your life.
And unlike parents, most good educators are in the business only for a simple thank you from a student they helped along the way.
I also hope you will thank those neighbors, family friends, pastors and former bosses who have nudged you and pushed you to be your best.
Advice to my graduate
They will call out my son’s full name Thursday night.
If you are looking my way you will probably be able to watch my heart burst with pride. There will be no air-horns, rebel yells or whistling, just a big smile and squeeze to my wife’s hand.
Jacob, we are so proud of you.
You have accomplished a lot in the past three-years. Houston High School has suited you well and you’ve thrived in this green and Godly Mississippi rural environment.
Your mother, your teachers, your friends and I have worked hard to help you learn how to spot the truth and reject the lies and deceit of the world.
It’s time to make your own choices and then stand completely responsible for those decisions.
We also hope you realize that your education never stops.
Sure, you’re headed to Tarleton State next fall, but even with a college degree you must set your mind to soaking up all the knowledge you can.
Please be picky about what you put in your brain.
While your mother and I have not always been right, we have always been your mom and dad and we’ve always had your best interests at heart. Let me assure you there are those out there who will try to fill your mind with crap and they could care less where you end up in the world.
Last but not least, be strong and persevere.
If you want something – seek an honorable way to get it and get busy.
Most of the great accomplishments in this world are not attained by intellect or luck. The good things in life are earned by hard work and an unfailing faith that it can be done.
Jacob, you will change more in the next four years than you probably ever will in your entire life.
You will decide what habits you will carry into adulthood. You will decide how hard you want to work for the goals you set. You will make your choices and you will live with them the rest of your life.
Jacob, remember that we are your mom and dad and nothing will ever change that.
Thursday is a big day for a man with big plans. Son, you don’t know how proud we are!
Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor/News for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be contacted at 456-3771 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org