22 May Flat Hats and Flowers
It was a Thursday night about 7:00 p.m. when my husband arrived at the MGH Emergency Room. It wasn’t a life-threatening event, but our 2-year-old son, at the time, fell in the slippery bathtub and hit his chin just right. Just right means a small gash that left the bathroom looking like a crime scene on CSI Las Vegas. As a police officer, my husband works well under pressure, so he handled the blood, stitches, and tears like a champ. He even managed to clean up the mess, give the boys a bedtime snack, and tuck them in—all before I made it home for the night. You see, I didn’t even hear about all of the ‘excitement’ until I arrived home at about 10:30. I was at my night class, just as I had been every Thursday night for the past two years. It wasn’t easy getting a Master’s Degree when my kids were only 2 and 5–having a superhero husband helped.
Let’s be realistic, life is messy…glitter messy. And, frequently (read: all the time) when I was working full-time and completing my second degree, my house resembled the before picture of any home improvement show. True, there was one time I panicked when I realized that my kids knew the theme song to the show, Cops… ♪♫♯ ”Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” ♪♫♯ But, overall, they were happy, healthy, and loved. They bonded with Daddy on Guy’s Night and gained an appreciation for learning as they watched me study, write papers, and create presentations. In fact, when our youngest son was in middle school he even crafted a PowerPoint presentation as a method to persuade us to allow him to play Rated M (Mature) video games. Every kid creates PowerPoints for his parents, right? He was organized and outlined one convincing point on each slide. Alas, it didn’t work. We essentially told him he could play M games when he was, well, M. The point is, our kids gained a true appreciation for working hard, sacrificing for the greater good, and being brave, even when you’re not at the ER when your son’s getting stitches.
I think about those days this time of year when many of our friends and family members don those quirky-looking flat hats and walk across the stage to grab that hard-earned diploma. Some degrees required years. Most required caffeine. Some degrees required loans. Most required grit. All required late nights, lots of papers, and a support system to keep them from quitting when they didn’t think it was possible to read another chapter or to understand the foreign language known as Econ.
It’s like the new Snicker’s campaign that asks, “Who are you when you’re hungry?” Then, you get to choose the Snicker Bar that best describes you! None of them are very flattering. But, sometimes when you’re hangry (hungry + angry), you need something, or someone, to talk you off the ledge so you can regain your Zen again. Every student who walks across the stage to receive a diploma had that!
The dedication to persist until that diploma is hanging on the wall is admirable. It’s also why the Community Foundation has so many donors who contribute to educational attainment efforts. They know that education impacts the overall quality of life for a person, a family, and a community. And, they also know that it’s hard—so every bit of financial aid, every scholarship, every note of support, and every supporter counts. If you don’t like where your future or the future of your community is headed, do something about it. As Pastor Steve DeNeff at College Wesleyan Church is known to say, “It’s not enough to hate the weeds. You must love the flowers.”
So, the moral of this story is this: Remember to thank those who helped you cross the finish line, do what you can to help someone else who is still in the race, hate the weeds, love the flowers, and never play Rated M video games until you’re officially M. And, when things get tough, just grab a Snickers.