FOR BEAR ON HIS GRADUATION FROM YEAR 12

He made it!

My dear Bear,

Last night I watched you receive your secondary graduation certificate. It’s hard to put into words how that felt, but I’m going to try. I know that for you (probably because you’re a guy) it’s simple: school is done, end of story. I feel relief too (we both know the last year has been tough), but I feel so much more. You see, I’ve watched you every step of the way, from the time you were born.

I know it probably sounds far-fetched now, but learning was something you embraced wholeheartedly when you were very young. You loved showing off what you’d learnt too. I don’t know how many times Grandma Sausage had to listen to you sing the alphabet, how many times you wrote your name in giant, wobbly letters, how many strangers heard that your name had one N (not two) and how many big words (such as precipitation) you learnt all before you started school. I just know that it was a lot. In hindsight, I was probably one of those annoying mums who started every sentence with “My son…”. Sad, but likely to be true.

Also true is the fact that you really wanted to go to school. Yes, really. Your birthdate meant you had to start later than you wanted, so I just taught you the basics of reading and writing (and even science) until the big day finally came. Of course, when it did, there were buckets of tears. All mine of course, you were perfectly fine with Miss Newton … but I soon recovered. You had a great head start and that made homework easy for you in the early days – you took pride in cutting out things that started with A or B … and you quickly convinced Miss Newton that you needed harder home reading books. Monkey proved to be the perfect audience for your growing reading skills. Somewhere I have a photo that sums up this perfectly – Monkey is sitting on a stool listening to you read a book while you were on the loo. Don’t worry, we can only see your feet.

This is the photo that made you tired of fame.

One day (not now, I know it’s the last thing on your mind) you might recall your school years with fondness – maybe not until you have your own children (which I hope you do because you’ll make a terrific father). Perhaps you will remember the mousetrap car you made that worked perfectly in trials and fell apart in the real race, politely pointing out mistakes to your Year 4 teacher, giving a speech that earned you a school councillor role, having your photo used to advertise your school and thinking you were famous, meeting a new friend called ‘Camel’ and having your holiday story read out by Miss Potter (you listened to my advice and didn’t start the story “In my holidays…”). Perhaps you will remember winning the swimming champion title several times, the year you were named best and fairest in soccer, and the time you pushed the boundaries with a particularly loud performance on music night (you rocked, by the way). Perhaps you will remember fun times with friends, teachers who made learning fun, and the solar oven you made that worked … as well as how much you hated handwriting, English essays and physics.

So here’s where the advice bit comes in (work with me – just nod and smile a couple of times): some say when you leave school the real learning begins. I think learning is lifelong – your school years just set the foundation. But now, instead of learning complicated equations and discussing books you don’t even like (and possibly didn’t read), learning will take on a whole new meaning for you. It’s limitless, Bear … there’s so much you can learn and most of it doesn’t come from books. And that’s my advice – live, laugh and learn. You’ll make mistakes (who doesn’t?), but hopefully you’ll only make the same mistake once.

Bear, you deserve the best from this world – it’s time to go out there and get it. It’s up to you now – it’s time for me to stand back so you can discover how the world works on your own. But, whenever you need me, I’ll be there to listen, encourage, cheer, hug, console and marvel (and cook special dinners). I’m so proud of you – for the boy you’ve always been and the man you are becoming. Thank you for being such an important, incredibly wonderful part of my life.

I love you, Bear.

Mum