This is it.
The graduation column.
The column that I have been leading up to all year.
The column that probably will annoy you, especially if the other ones grated on your nerves. Yes, this is it. My baby boy is graduating from high school. My baby boy is leaving the nest. He will be a counselor this summer and then he is off to Israel for the next undetermined amount of time. I have subtly insinuated (well, maybe not so subtly) how sons #1 and 2 have been drifting off to the right — to the land of white shirts, back hats, and an inordinate number of books filled with valuable information regarding ownership of cows and other assorted livestock. Son #3 knows what his options are. Will he follow his brothers down the black-and-white road? Will he stay in Israel for the rest of time? Will he join the army? Will he decide that he wants to follow his father’s middle-of-the-road path? The possibilities are endless, and as his mom, I have learned that I can only take it one day at a time and not have any expectations at all, except to hope and pray that he has a healthy, safe, and wonderful experience. That he reaches his full potential. That he finds happiness and contentment. That he has peace of mind and fullness of heart. That he learns to do his own laundry — OK, maybe that last one is a bit of stretch, but you get my point. As I possibly have said in previous columns, we don’t actually control anything, no matter how many lists we make, so we just have to take things how they come and hope they are all good.
Back to graduation.
Somehow, it has been four years since son #3 started high school. Since he left the safe cocoon of Yeshivas Noyam, his elementary school in Paramus. Since he was able to start wearing different patterned shirts. I remember him not being so enthusiastic about following in his brothers’ TABC footsteps and saying to him (quoting a friend), “Over the next four years, you can choose to be happy and have a great experience, or you can choose to be miserable and have a horrible experience. The choice is yours.” Fortunately, he chose the former. I still remember him coming home after the first day of school and telling me that he and some other “new” friends were invited to a boy’s house in Highland Park. That was the beginning of forming these incredible friendships with a group of truly amazing young men. Some of these guys have spent a lot of time in my house. They are funny, polite, and considerate. And I love when they feel like our home is their home. I often have walked into the kitchen to find one of these boys looking through my refrigerator and freezer, trying to find something “substantial” to eat.
When I say the four years have flown by, I really and truly mean it. I have watched these kids grow, both emotionally and physically. Boys who started shorter than I am now tower over me. We have talked about school, about girls, about life. I have come to really love them, and I am so happy that son #3 has made all of these new “brothers.”
Many of them have asked to be in one of my columns, and I always have responded “one day.” Though I always say that I cannot mention their names, to protect the identity of the innocent, and the chance that I will forget to mention one of them and inadvertently insult them. To one of these boys in particular, I want to thank him for keeping what happens in the house, in the house. Thinking back to a particular incident when I could not get the silverware drawer open and I had a minor (ok, major) meltdown, accompanied by screaming, not-so-great language, tears, and an epic hot flash. And he didn’t even make fun of me — well, maybe he did behind my back, but I will never know for sure.
So this is it. By the time you read this, son #3 and his amazing friends will have graduated from high school. To my real son and my not real sons, I wish you love and luck. I wish you good health and amazing experiences, and as I have said to the boys who have passed through my house before you, know that my home and my heart and my snack drawer are always open to you, no matter what color shirts you end up wearing.
On to the next chapter — hope it’s a good one!
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck congratulates all of the graduates and their families. Someone pass the tissues…