Celebrating Transitions and Interested Children

My school just finished its middle school-to-high school promotion ceremony, a happy event complete with student speeches, an eighth-grade class video, and a colleague fighting to hold back tears as she spoke about what she has learned from her students. It was a moment for all to remember.

This is the season for such transitional events, from scouts crossing bridges and flying up to schoolchildren of all ages leaving behind classrooms, campuses, and most of all caring teachers, leaders, coaches, and other adults with whom they have developed relationships of all kinds over the past year or more. My Twitter and Facebook feeds teem with photographs of happy kids, happy teachers, and happy families, and I get to feel just a bit older as my former students celebrate the transitions of their own children–including high school graduations. And this year I got to post one of those college graduation photos myself.

I like to think that each of these transitions marks, if not an Aha! Moment in a child’s life, at least a recognition of a changed, enhanced relationship with the world. I want to believe that kids making an upward leap to new challenges and new adventures are excited by the need to be a little more interested in, a little more engaged with the world they occupy–that each new challenge opens new doors of curiosity and maybe even passion, new perspectives on an existence rich with possibilities and connections.

And of course each of these new possibilities and connections carries with it just a bit more responsibility, a greater obligation to pay attention to the needs of those around them and the consequences of their own actions. This can be a wonderful and empowering thing, hard as it can sometimes be to shoulder those obligations.

It happens in our world that often we recognize and celebrate transitions and then take a break–summer vacation, now–before actually moving on to the next experience. I hope that as we send our transitioning children off, or maybe accompany them, that we take advantage of the moments we have to encourage and nourish their interests and take seriously their potential as active, engaged citizens of the world, whether they’re Brownies, Webelos, middle schoolers, or even college graduates.

Here’s to The Interested Child, of all ages!

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