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Jessica Wiant: Graduates still babies to doting parents

The SATs have all been scored. The college decisions are made. Prom gowns are back in the closet, and the caps have all been tossed.

Graduation season has come to an end here in the valley, and for hundreds of students, a whirlwind senior year is over. That one final summer at home is now in full swing.

By fall, many of those students will go on to college or careers, leaving behind empty (or at least less-crowded) nests.

A year ago I still saw this time of year through the graduate's eyes: the end of an era, but the beginning of a new, exciting one filled with independence and promise.

This year, I saw it from the parent's perspective for the first time.

In my world, day-care class is still in session. Three of my son's "classmates" will be graduating to the next room by the end of the month, and two others will turn 1 by the end of the summer.

I feel like I've gotten to know them right along with my own boy, watching them learn to sit, crawl, and, now, walk. I've seen them all cranky at the end of the day, and I have watched them through runny noses and other childhood maladies.

On one day a couple of weeks ago when I was, as always, totally wrapped up in that baby world, a co-worker of mine pointed out that her own daughter had gone to the very same day care as my son, and now she's just finished high school.

Tears filled her eyes, and subsequently mine (as often happens these days), as she explained that only after the pomp and circumstance did it fully begin to sink in. With all the rushing around that senior year entailed -- ballgames, college visits, dress shopping, and finally graduation ceremonies and parties -- it was only in the silence that followed did it hit her how much her baby has grown up, and is drifting away.

All the worry about teething and colds and sleeping through the night was suddenly put in a new perspective.

"When you're in it, you're in it," I think she said, but before you know it the problem that you're totally engulfed in will have passed and you'll be onto the next one, like, say, potty training.

I went home feeling more relaxed after being reminded that all babies eventually make it through each tough time. They'll get over the virus, sleep at night, drink from a cup, go to the bathroom on their own. Then they'll grow up.

That realization was bittersweet as well. I was so wrapped up in filling a baby's every need that the thought of him someday not needing me, well, while it has crossed my mind often, it never felt so real.

So, here's a final message for all the 2010 graduates, whether you'll be moving on to college or just to the toddler room: Remember, no matter how grown up you are, you'll always be our babies.

Contact Jessica Wiant at jwiant@nvdaily.com. For more "That's Life" and other family news go to www.nvdaily.com/moms.



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