About this time each year, and on into the fall, I start to see blogs and posts about the pain of sending an adult child to college or into the workplace. I understand the sadness at seeing them go but for me, these transitions have been more joy than sorrow. Don't get me wrong; I shed my share of tears as we say our "final" good-bye, leaving another first year student behind. But even some of those tears are tears of joy.
I see my role as parent exactly as I find it in Proverbs 22:6:
Point your kids in the right direction - when they're old they won't be lost. (The Message)
Yes, this is first and foremost to give them a firm foundation and the ability to think for themselves so that as they go, and wherever they go, they will ...
...Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...
...Love your neighbor as yourself...
...You are the light of the world...
...The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor....
...and so much more...
Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it. (Living Bible)
But I strongly believe my role as parent is also to help my children find their God-given gifts, passions, and talents, and to find ways to strengthen these gifts so that they will be prepared to use them as adults. I need to provide opportunity for exploring their gifts, for talking with mentors and professionals in those areas, and to be guided by individuals who are already doing those things. When possible, to also give them opportunities to test these skills and interests.
Sometimes this is easy. A child comes into this world with her mouth wide open, projecting to the other side of the hospital wing. Sometimes it takes a bit longer, testing out interests in missions, architecture, and flying, before finding that ability to connect to younger children; to guide and to teach the next generation. And sometimes it's right in the middle, waiting until that upper elementary school child gets his hands on a video camera for the first time and you quickly see the creativity to write and the eye for the perfect camera angle and a visual story is not far behind.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (NIV)
This weekend was a parent's delight; the culmination of many years of looking for the way the child should go, identifying a mentor to teach and to guide, searching for camps and workshops to build the skills, and allowing him to go nine hours away to a school known for its technology, professors, and connections in the industry.
Andrew's college has an annual film festival for students to showcase their work. Documentaries and short films are submitted, a select few are chosen and during this weekend are judged by professionals in the field. Andrew submitted three films and had 1 chosen for the weekend. In addition, he and a friend auditioned for, and were selected to be co-hosts for the event. Of course we wouldn't miss it!
Their comedic timing was impeccable and their creativity in developing each segment was top-notch. We laughed and we cried from laughing some more.
And there were some surprises during the event.
T-shirts made by Andrew and Trevor and launched into the audience during one of their sketches.
Andrew told me he would be cross-dressing but that's all he would say. Hillary Clinton and The Donald, making an appearance to lead the voting for the audience choice award, ended up being one of my favorite sketches of the evening.
The best surprise - hearing Andrew's name announced as the winner of the Best Documentary award and having his film also win Best Audio Mix.
But maybe the most surprising surprise was that sweet Sarah was able to keep the secret of Andrew's award all afternoon. Being a part of the design team for the weekend, one of her jobs was to take the top-secret results of the judges' picks and type the winning names onto the certificates. She sat through all of dinner with us and spent time with Andrew in the hours between typing his name and the announcement of the award, and never gave even a hint.
One more year and there will be another transition in our home, from college to the workplace. We know that with Andrew's degree and skill set, the possibility of him landing a job close to home will be slim. And that's okay. We wouldn't want to ask him to anything other than what God has planned for him since before the day he was born.