When Kate graduated from high school, we asked family and friends to help us create a book for her. We called it “Advice and Encouragement for an Adventurous Life” and she loved it. But then over the past six years, we all kind of forgot about it.
Except for Alex. She asked if she was getting one for her graduation too. We included a note in the party invitations and asked people to mail, email or bring a note to include in her own book. And of course, I bought the biggest, orangest book I could find. Kate and Brendan pulled out markers and stickers, and while some people brought letters with them, the book table was a centerpiece of the party. If you have a graduation, I am tossing this idea over the wall to you. It’s one of my best ones.
This is what it looks like.
It has pages from all of her family, her coaches, friends, our friends, neighbors, and the kids she babysits and coaches herself. I’ve added pictures from graduation, the commencement program and a few other assorted pieces. Oh, did I say pictures? I do believe I have one more….
Just in case you were wondering, I took two pages for my piece. This is what I wrote:
Allie Rose, You have been an extraordinary daughter and I’ve learned so much from you. You have three super powers, which have served you well. However, I have a few small (very small) suggestions that could enhance and expand your experience, allowing your super powers to propel you to a truly spectacular life.
SuperPower 1: Incredible Intuitive Internal GPS Ever since you were eight and navigated our way back to the hotel in Milan, it was clear that you were directionally gifted. You can read any map, path or situation and know exactly where to go. Though we doubted you for years, we now trust your ability to get us (and you) exactly where we need to be. You are truly a right time, right place kind of girl .
However…Don’t be afraid to get lost. A wrong turn can lead to some surprising discoveries. Allow yourself to be lost for a moment, a day or a year (preferably after college), and you will be astonished at what is around the corner, just waiting for you.
SuperPower 2: Comprehensive Emotion Control Compartmentalization You have always been able to separate emotion from the task at hand, and achieve your goals with self-discipline and focus. You don’t talk much, you just do it. This is a grown up skill that I am, quite frankly, learning from you. It’s served you well in school, softball and hiking.
However…Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The universe is full of people who are happy to support your dreams and goals. Small steps, big challenges, we can’t do it alone. Even the most secure compartments need a way to let some light in.
SuperPower 3: Extraordinary Empathy Expansion Zone When you were little, you would be upset if you thought we were gossiping for being unkind (especially at the dinner table). You’re a little confusing, because while you aren’t highly emotive, you are highly empathetic. You always see two sides to every person and every position. You give everyone the benefit of the doubt, sometimes long past the time they deserve it. This is a beautiful characteristic, and I hope you never lose it.
However…Don’t be afraid to stand up and take care of yourself. You deserve the best, because you give the best of yourself. Expecting the best of others isn’t selfish, it’s the way for you all to lift each other up.
I’ve loved being your mom, and I can’t wait to see where you take all of us in the next part of your life. I am proud of you, and think you are super cool, fun, smart, sassy, strong, fantastic, and yes, powerful. Go get it.
Kim’s Top Ten Tips for Life
1. Most stress can be managed with a well-written list. Choose your paper and pens carefully.
2. Cheap beer is good enough, but never skimp on the quality of your coffee. I know you don’t drink much coffee, but someday you will, and you will thank me for this.
3. Always have your own money, a book, snacks, water, and shoes you can walk in. You don’t need to wear the shoes, just have them close by.
4. Travel trumps stuff. Spend your money on airplane tickets and you’ll never be sorry.
5. You make good choices and have great instincts about people. Trust yourself. You are right. Oh yeah, you already knew that.
6. Allow an extra ten minutes. For everything. If you’re early, you have your book (see number 3).
7. When in doubt, bring a cheese plate. It can be an appetizer or dessert and is always appreciated.
8. Don’t date anyone who isn’t kind to waiters or waitresses. That’s a character flaw and it will show up later.
9. Find a new sport. Or keep the old one. Just have one. It keeps you happy. And the world is a better place with a Happy Alex.
10. Call home. We will miss you.