It’s not about the ceremony. Or the cap and gown.

One of my favorite units in childhood PE was bowling.  In my tiny town we actually went to the local bowling alley and got to play on real lanes.  I love the math of bowling…no idea why.  It’s kind of like diagraming sentences–I feel actual joy when I imagine getting to diagram sentences.  I know, I’m off topic…and also a little nerdy.

Back to the bowling alley.  The place smelled of cigarettes and stale beer.  I loved every bit of it.  We were allowed to bring a few dollars and could buy a pop and candy bar from the bowling alley attendant after we bowled.   One year I remember drinking a bottle of Mountain Dew and eating a caramel Twix while noticing that one of the lanes was set up for little kids.  They had “gutter guards” set up so the ball would never fall into the gutter…just bounce off the edge and continue rolling toward the pins. Obviously I’ve seen this set up since then but for some reason whenever I think about bowling, I think about that bowling lane.  I remember thinking how nice it looked. How much less stress…how lovely to bowl in a lane where you were guaranteed that the ball would reach the ideal spot.

I tell you that story because for some reason I cannot stop thinking of that mental image lately.

You see…I have a high school senior. The end of her senior year just evaporated before our eyes.  We had a handful of REALLY COOL STUFF on its way and it just became liquid and slipped right through our fingers and we’re all just standing around looking at our empty palms trying to come to grips with what we just lost and how fast it happened.

Lets talk about loss.

Yes, I’ve read the articles where everyone discusses that these kids don’t understand real sadness.  They are reminded that there was a generation that had to miss the end of their senior year not because they were forced to be inside their homes, safe, well fed and wifi connected but because they went to serve in a World War.  Good Lord that must have been terrible.  I simply can’t imagine the magnitude of worry, sadness and loss that generation and it’s parents must have felt.  I could never take away that it must have been the worst kind of  horrible.

I also know that for anyone who remembers such a time, it must be a struggle to hear parents and their kids complain about not being able to go to prom, fear not getting the chance to walk in a graduation ceremony, have a senior skip day, etc simply because they were told to stay home.  And to be honest…its true…the two situations can’t be compared.

Trust us…we have spent a lot of time talking about perspective to our kids. Those articles haven’t been lost on any of us.

But here’s the part that I think some people critical of the emotion behind this loss might be missing.

As parents, we have NO FRAME OF REFERENCE to guide these kids through this.

Not because we don’t understand disappointment or change of plans. We get that and we’ve piloted ourselves and them out of those situations before.

At least for me, it’s that when these kids have thing after thing stripped from them they look to us to realign them…like the gutter guards.  They are certain that, like we’ve always done, we will route them back to the middle of the lane and point them towards the endpoint where they were headed all along.

But every time my senior gets another event cancelled, postponed, or changed to a “VIRTUAL option” (DEAR GOD THAT HAS BECOME LIKE A DIRTY PHRASE) she looks to me and asks

“How will this work?  What will it look like?  Will this get to happen? Will I get to do that?”


And we have no answer.

Because just like them, we have never participated in a GLOBAL FREAKING PANDEMIC before either.

Every single solitary day something changes in OUR world too and we’re forced to learn on the fly, adapt our work worlds, our home life, our social lives in ways that we never imagined, nor were we even remotely prepared to do because no one told us the world was going to close up shop for a few months this year.

Please know, we desperately want to do what we’ve always done.  Allow the ball that is our child to bounce off of us confidently and realign because we have the answers based on our life experience to easily get them back on track.  We want to remind them that the end point and the goal is still straight ahead…they just need to get back in the lane.

Oh how I want to be the annoying parent saying to my kid…

“Trust me, I went through something just like this and here’s how it turned out. You’ll be fine too.”

But let’s be honest.

We can’t.

We can hope and we can assume based on charts, graphs and scientists who tell us that eventually things will look “normal” again…but we have NOTHING to fall back on with certainty and as parents…this fact is rocking our worlds.

It’s not that we aren’t sad that the images we have built in our minds since day 1 of kindergarten are being altered or will simply remain in our imagination of what we thought they would be rather than being able to have them realized as actual memories.  We are. We’re really, really sad about it.

Some of us want the recognition that our super academic kids have earned through really hard work and some of us simply want the finish line for our less than academic kids because they worked just as hard.

We have a thousand reasons to want to watch these kids walk in the traditional cap and gown.

But I promise you that the fear, anxiety, sadness and weight of our emotion is based in a complete inability to guard them from what we don’t know.  We mourn the loss of the ceremony but even more so the loss of how we planned to launch them into the next phase of their lives.


No stress.

So, if you’re tired of hearing from the senior and their parents…I beg of you… give us some grace and maybe a Mountain Dew and a caramel Twix.  We gotta figure out how to direct these kids out of the nest without the guide rails we thought we had just a few short weeks ago.

Class of 2020… CONGRATS to each and every one of you…especially you:

Avery Jayne Lake





  1. Your daughter is beautiful. I hope the school find a way to make this wonderful moment in her life. My grand daughter Kate, is also a senior and has struggled with loosing all the things she looked forward to in her senior year. The school will be doing a virtual graduation and are finding some fun ways to keep the seniors engaged with their friends. My daughter is actually going to try to set a graduation party through zoom.

    • Suzy Lake says:

      That’s great! We’re waiting to see what the final call will be for grad. They surveyed the parents for suggestions. It’s such a WEIRD TIME! Hope your granddaughter has a wonderful summer before college!!!

  2. I’m not quite sure where you find the words or the correlations, but you are spot on with your thoughts and words. I too have a senior that is in the same quandary, Britten. I will have her read these words and hop they help.

  3. For the past 4 years I’ve looked forward to seeing my grown homeschool graduate from college. She’s done well and the university had planned a 3 day extravaganza. I’m so sad for all she missed on campus–the friends, excitement, goodbyes, parties, awards ceremonies. All we can do for our kids is acknowledge and validate their loss, grieve, and muster our strength to carry on and celebrate amidst the loss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: