the class of what now?

I still catch myself asking the question, ‘is this year real life?’ more than I’d like to admit. But apparently it is and aren’t we all just figuring it out as we go?

For instance, Connor was almost home-schooled this year more than he was at school. Or at least that was his comment last week, ‘hey mom, i finished eighth grade and only attended half the year!’ Bless.

But I guess it’s sort of true. We had our stint in October/November when CJ was in and out of all the illness and then, of course, that period from mid-March through our last planned day of school in June that was sort of … neat? p.s. When school opens on August 27th (hooray for a calendar!), Connor will be dropped off promptly to begin his freshman year.

Yep, we’ve reached a whole notha level over here. Connor is going to hike school (where are my Billy Madison friends?)

I want to take a moment to sincerely congratulate that little punk on his middle school achievements. He sent me a photo at work a bit ago with several certificates proudly displayed on his bed; acknowledgements in social studies, english, math, pe and all a’s not only for eighth grade but throughout middle school.

So while he is academically inclined, he’s also a pretty amazing athlete. Of course all the sports are canceled but I just loved watching him play football and basketball (when he wasn’t throwing up or otherwise sick). I will say, too, that if you ever want to steal the line, ‘i love watching you play,’ I give you permission. I was also super proud when he was one of two eighth graders invited to attend a leadership conference with several other football players led by Jason Hanson. #notevensorryforthebrag

Last week, some wicked awesome parents organized an informal gathering to honor our eighth graders who, like so many other kids/young adults making transitions in their education this year, didn’t have the opportunity to be properly celebrated.

And this is the part where my heart stopped beating. I mean, not literally. It just felt all to overwhelming and frightening and I wanted to go find a Facebook memory or something from ten years ago.

We arrived and there is a lovely young lady who gives me the greatest hugs every time I see her, except this time she sprinted across the grass in our local ‘old park’ to latch on to Connor.

Oh wait, social distancing? Yeah, there was none of that at this event. In fact, I heard all the parents exclaim, ‘get closer!’ during class photos. All I can say is I’m sorry and I’m going to have to leave it at that.

But Lilian wasn’t the only young lady seemingly enthused to see Connor. And it wasn’t just young ladies. There were a number of (now taller) young men anxious to have a chance to catch up with CJ.

It’s funny because he’s been so non-plussed by this whole ‘stay home, stay safe’ thing. He didn’t care that (real) school was cut short. He didn’t care that he went to Florida for three weeks and lived his best life with his grandparents and he didn’t care that he wasn’t playing sports. He also didn’t seem to care that he hadn’t seen any of his friends since March so I said, ‘yes, please’ to a play date with a friend for the first time earlier this month.

And yes, I said play date. And I’ll do so until I can adequately wrap my head around the fact that Connor is a young man. I mean, his voice certainly would lead me to believe it but I’m not ready to go there.

But anyway, friends in abundance. Smiling, happy eighth grad graduates. And, girls everywhere (many huddled around him). Beautiful young ladies, actually. And I was so proud.

I actually just was so.proud. I was proud of this resilient, contented, funny, wicked smart, handsome-as-all-heck friend to many. That’s just who he is and that’s what’s differentiated him for me over time. Connor is just that kind of friend.

So while the whole event was just a stitch overwhelming for my heart, I was so thankful for the chance to celebrate these sweet kids. I guess this is the start of yet another chapter in their lives. And in mine. Jesus, take the dang wheel.

Here’s to you, class of 2024.

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