Teaching life lessons to the next generation is hard.
You begin with the standards.
Be kind to others.
Open the door for your mother.
Be nice to your sister. Hold your fork properly. Don’t wear white after Labor Day.
You ask for a please and tell someone to say thank you and remind them to take their plate to the sink and assign chores and follow up on their homework and discourage bullying of any kind and you cross your fingers and ten toes and hope that it all sticks.
You wonder if you are making a difference as a parent. You wonder if anyone is listening. You wonder if the chicks will fly when they leave the nest.
One day you see a glimpse. A glimmer. A spark of the adult they will become.
And it makes all the trying worth every word.
Last week we held a ceremony at our home.
It was a last-minute idea that one of the twins had because they knew their cousins were upset about not having a graduation. Three of the littles in our extended family were supposed to walk across a stage and wear a hat and get handed a graduation certificate.
Milestone graduations every one.
We had a kindergartener graduating to first grade.
A fifth-grader graduating to middle school.
And an eighth-grader graduating to high school.
We had our calendars marked and our outfits picked out and our seats reserved.
Until life had other plans.
And so it was that three littles marched up the aisle to ‘Pomp and Circumstance” played on a guitar with a percussionist keeping the beat. They took their seat in the row marked “reserved for graduates” with their graduation hats and tassels on the pre-graduation side.
There was an opening prayer and announcements regarding the use of flash photography and remarks by esteemed members of the community.
And right before the commencement speaker spoke, there was a musical interlude.
A special song.
Written by my husband for the event.
One simple chorus with these words:
May your days be filled with sunshine
May the clouds stay far away
May you always smell the roses
As you work and as you play
May you dream big dreams and seek the things
That bring peace and make you strong
And may Jesus write your celebration song
Words to live by.
Words from the heart.
Words for the next generation.
My brother followed up with a commencement speech full of life advice for the graduates and life lessons for the road ahead.
The littles walked across the stage to get their diplomas and post for a family picture with each graduate. They moved their tassels to the left and tossed their hats in the air and went inside for cake and ice cream.
We played games and told stories and talked about what school next year would look like and eventually they left to go home.
And that would have been the end of the story.
Except later that night the phone rang.
It was my middle son. He had driven back to Waco that night and along the way…
…he composed a second verse to the song.
It needed more he told us.
A song like that needed a second verse so he wrote this:
May your heart be filled with laughter
Even when the skies are gray
May you keep on chasing after
The words He had to say
May you hold on tight to what is right
And let love guide you along
And let Jesus write your celebration song
Isn’t it amazing?
You try so hard to teach those lessons to the next generation.
The most important lesson of all?
The lesson you learn day your children teach you right back.
PS Here’s my husband singing his song over on my YouTube channel.
PPS My oldest son (not to be outdone by his brother) later wrote a third verse that goes like this:
May the peace of Christ watch over you
As you travel near and far
May His grace be all around your soul
No matter where you are
And when your faith is challenged
Just know it won’t be long
‘Til Jesus writes your celebration song.
Let Jesus write your celebration song