My son is graduating from high school in two weeks; and despite the fact that I don’t feel old enough to have a child of 18 years, he’ll put on a cap and gown, accept a diploma, and move away in August.

I remember my own graduation–the foam plates, the sliced ham on tea rolls, the potato salad . . . the relief. Finally I was free.

Mom froze the mountain of leftovers and stashed the 157 remaining foam plates and 3 boxes of plastic silverware for “later”. Mom is from the generation that still reheats leftovers in the oven and saves things like paper wrapped straws from restaurants in her purse in case of a straw shortage. I never knew what “later” meant with regard to the paper plates–I just knew she left them unattended and that made them fair game.

My sisters and I stole every last plate, all the ham and buns, and every knife, fork, and spoon. We took it all to a family friend’s house in preparation for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. We were poor high school and college students who wanted to “do it all ourselves.”

Naturally, that meant stealing things my mother already purchased and calling on an adult friend to stash the loot. Mom missed the plates almost immediately. We gave her a couple of extra straws to put in her purse and let her think she was crazy.

The night of the party all was forgiven. Mom and Dad were surprised and happy to have raised kids who got something right once in awhile.

Things have changed since the summer I graduated. I got married and had a family of my own. So did we all, I guess.  My parents divorced. My grandparents passed away. Somewhere in my twenties I realized I was neither immortal nor invincible.

If I stand back and look at things from a distance I wonder how it is that time has passed so quickly–when did my boy become a man. Will he keep in touch after he leaves? Will he call for advice or try to figure it all out on his own? Probably a little of both.

That’s the way it should be.