It won’t be long before my three children will take their place among the other graduates who exchange their pencils for a diploma.
It is that time of year again when bittersweet tears are shed by parents as they watch their kindergartener head to elementary, their elementary kid dash towards junior high and their senior begin their journey into life.
And although my three children will wait their turn, it occurred to me it won’t be long before I shed those same tears. For example, our oldest son James will enter his final year of elementary school next year. The idea of him growing even more both frightens yet excites me.
It really goes by in a flash.
For each graduation whether it be from kindergarten or whether it will be for future celebrations, I give my children a copy of the Dr. Seuss classic, “Oh, the Places You Will Go.”
My own mother gave me a copy, and I intend to carry on the tradition. It’s a simple book with such a deep message.
I grin whenever we read it together. I was about 12 years old, heading into middle school, when that same book was given to me as a gift from my Momma.
It never dawned on me the meaning behind the geometric shape pictures and the catchy words.
It reminded me of trips my Maw Maw and I would take every three months or so to Mrs. Wilson’s house.
Mrs. Wilson lived in Wanilla, which is a small community about seven miles outside of Monticello going down the highway towards Georgetown.
She was a widow who lived in a nice house with a few pastures outside her porch along the main road. Maw Maw and I would visit her with a pile of pants.
I was an extremely lanky child, and it was always hard for me to find pants that would fit my long legs. After a few “waiting on the flood” jokes at school, Maw Maw decided to take my pants to Mrs. Wilson.
Mrs. Wilson was a talented seamstress. On her machine and with her bare hands, she could make about anything out of a piece of fabric. We would take my pants over there, and she would measure me and make alterations so that I wouldn’t look like such an oddball at school.
Maw Maw enjoyed Mrs. Wilson’s company so much that she would sit and visit with her while she made the alterations. The visit would begin among the two ladies at around 7 a.m. with a cup of coffee, and it would end around 7 p.m. with the same.
Mrs. Wilson didn’t have any toys or video games at her house so I would try to entertain myself while the two talked and such.
I would always end up on her front porch in an old wooden swing she had. I could sit for hours in a rocking chair or swing.
I remember that I would swing back and forth on that swing until I heard the train coming through the small community. Mrs. Wilson lived right on the edge of the track.
When I heard its rumbling and felt the ground shake, I would sneak off the porch. As the whistles shook the entire zip code, I would run along the tracks demanding that the engineer toot his horn louder. It was a wonder I didn’t get killed getting so close to the tracks. And it never dawned on me that the engineer only saw me for about a second.
I never could run along the fast train for very long, but I would always run as if I could. I would always wonder where the train was going and what sights I could see if I could only jump on.
On the way home from Mrs. Wilson’s, I would daydream about faraway lands and the adventures I would have there. I would meet interesting people. I would never want to come home because I would be too busy doing all sorts of new things.
That memory comes over me when I read that Dr. Seuss book to my own children. As a child, the world seems so endless and open to you. There are always other places over the hills or down a highway.
The trains always seem to be going somewhere.
And like the book, there is always that “waiting place” where you try to figure out what place to go next.
My children are at the ages where watching a train go by can spark a journey. An endless road can mean an expedition. The world is just waiting for them to arrive.
And just like that lanky kid chasing a train through Wanilla, if they can just run a little faster, they might could get there.
And oh, the places they will go.