As I’ve alluded to before, my 8-year-old, Cooper, went to school this year for the first time and had the rudest awakening of his life.
Apparently, although he already knows how to read, his teacher expected him to (get this) … keep reading.
“But I already know how to read!” he whined numerous times during the fall semester, as we sweated through Pinocchio and Pippi Longstocking.
To my little one, reading was a subject with a box next to it: “Can decipher the phonetic alphabet? Check. Done with reading.”
I laugh at my baby boy’s innocence, for thinking that we only need to learn things once and never have to learn them again. It reminds me of my pre-baby arrogance, when I thought I’d only have to tell my child once to come to me and she, quietly and obediently, would. How quickly I was disabused of that particular notion.
My oldest boy graduates in a week and, as I look back at his childhood, I am reminded that no lesson is learned the first time around. Each of my children—and their mother—needs constant reminders of one thing or another. Preparation is the antidote to dread is one’s lesson. Stand up for yourself, but don’t be a martyr is another’s. Wait before speaking is a third’s. Each of us has his or her own lesson that needs repeating.
Again … and again … and again.
This time of year, graduation speeches abound: “Shoot for the stars.” “You can be whatever you want to be.” “Never give up.”
If I were to give my children a graduation speech, one final admonition, I would say this: The relearning is the lesson. Even after you’ve learned the basics, stay teachable. Keep working to understand and articulate your faith. Keep improving at work. Learn the nuances of relationships. Learn your spouse. Learn yourself. Figure out where your blind spots are. Get a mentor. No matter the subject, keep learning. …
To all my children … from the boy just mastering the art of the sentence to the boy ready to launch into adulthood, and to those in between, remember, in this life, no matter how sure of ourselves we might be at age 8 or 18, very rarely do we learn the lesson the first time around.
Sometimes we’re 43 and our education has just begun.