This year my son is a high school senior. Last week he turned 18. The world considers him a man. He now towers over me and his hand me downs land in my closet. Yesterday his senior picture proofs came in the mail.
The little boy who so almost didn't make it into the world, the one who spent his first weeks in the ICU, and the one the professionals were uncertain would live, would walk or talk, is the young man in the picture, grinning at me, all dressed up in his cap and gown.
He may not get to wear the cap and gown for real this year. School has always been hard for him, and he needs more time and effort than his peers. But he is 18, and he is short on patience.
Through the years, I had to learn to slow down, to take it one step at a time. I had to learn that a milestone not met on time, is not the same as a milestone unmet. He has exceeded all expectations: he walks, he talks, he has friends, he plays sports, he writes, he reads, he is doing everything we feared he wouldn't. But exceeding expectations is not a graduation requirement.
Now it is his turn, his turn to learn to slow down, to learn to celebrate how far he has come, and not to sweat the milestones. But he is only 18, and I'm asking him to be a man.