I’m feeling a little older this week.
Okay, a lot older, and it’s the fault of modern-day school system practices.
My daughter is about to take place in a ring presentation ceremony at her high school, where she and her classmates will be getting their class ring.
She doesn’t graduate until the spring of 2019, and I find the fact that she will be walking around with a class ring on her finger in a couple of weeks astounding. I still recall when I received my class ring and one of our teachers joking that day that he was blinded by the bright reflections from our rings. But that was late spring of our junior year, maybe three months before we officially became seniors.
Now, apparently, some schools give out these rings at the start of a student’s sophomore year (though there’s no “giving” involved, those little rings cost a pretty penny).
Still, sophomore or junior, that ring will be a constant reminder that our little girl will be done with her high school years way too soon.
You’d think I would be used to this. My wife and I have five children. Our oldest has been married nearly three years and will be starting graduate school next month. The other three are at various stages of their post-high-school education.
But when that final, youngest one transitioning through those life milestones that show she’s rushing into adulthood, you begin to realize one thing: You’re getting old!
It’s not as if this is some sudden realization, or at least it shouldn’t be. I recall as a younger man and sports fan listening to my elders talking about watching this great athlete or that, ones I’ve only read about in history books, or listen to them talk about the young glory days of athletes I only knew as old barely-hanging-on athletes.
Now, I can talk about watching certain athletes — Ken Griffey Jr. and Micheal Jordan come to mind — who I watched come into their respective sports as young, fresh-faced competitors, reach heights of greatness, and then fade into retirement.
Heck, I’m old enough to remember the career start and end for guys like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and Jim Rice and Roger Clemens the generation before Jordon and Griffey, and now we’re not that many years away from the end of Dwayne Wade and David Ortiz and even LeBron James, the generation after Jordan and Griffey.
Over the years I’ve seen one of my two sisters and both brothers-in-law retire, we’ve lost my parents, and some of my old high school friends are no longer with us.
We’ve gone from a time when I eagerly awaited the arrival of each day’s newspaper to catch last night’s sports scores and read what is going on in the world, because newspapers were really the only effective news outlet, to being able to punch in a few buttons on a computer and within seconds read any story about any event throughout the world.
So yeah, the signs that the years are marching forward, that I’m getting older, have been around me for a long, long time.
But nothing hits home like seeing your own kids grow into adults. When you’ve been in child-rearing mode for as long as we have, seeing that final one moving ever-closer to that time when she’s ready to move out into the world, it’s an even stronger reminder.
Know what? That’s okay. Like all parents, I miss the days when I could sweep up one or two of my kids and carrying them around. I miss the times a hug and a few words could make the world all better when a toy broke or something went wrong.
Life gets a lot more complicated as they age, and they have to figure out some things on their own.
But that’s okay, because as much as seeing them grow up is a reminder I’m getting older, it’s a lot of fun seeing them strike out on their own, overcome obstacles and reach their own successes, carving out their own place in the world. If getting old is the price to pay for that, I’m okay with that.
John Peters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org