Anyone who sails through graduation without a jumble of emotions– joy, melancholy, anxiety,– probably isn’t a mother. I was probably a bit unwise to begin the day by looking back two years at Ben’s graduation; it was just yesterday and yet, he’s been gone forever. Everything has changed. I am more than aware our days with Stefan at home are numbered– and how we will miss him.
Every time I write about Stefan, I worry about my effusiveness. Surely I will come across as a braggart. But it’s impossible to convey the sheer goodness of this boy. We’ve been on the rounds of awards nights, orchestra concerts, Seminary Graduation, track banquets etc. these past weeks. And although the track guys are surprised to hear he’s smart and the AP teachers didn’t know he was musical, everyone, everyone expresses the same thought–“He’s the nicest boy.”
Stefan’s character is best illustrated by his relationships with his siblings. They frankly and fiercely adore him. Graduation fell on field day, movie day and 9th grade Lagoon Day (even if you’re not from Utah, you can imagine the one day where 9th graders from all over the state strut their stuff at our beloved amusement park), but none of the littles hesitated for a moment with their choice– they wanted to see Stefan in cap and gown, hear his name spoken and cheer with filial pride.
You might think graduating from high school easy for someone smart like Stefan. Not so. With eleven AP classes, four years of seminary and orchestra crowding his schedule, he never took the time for all the basic classes leading to graduation. We’ve all witnessed his determination this year to complete nine online classes in addition to his regular (brutal) homework schedule. Trust me, it was no easy task.
Stefan says he enjoyed fooling people– making them think he was a normal kid going home to watch TV when he was really holed in his room with piles of homework.
Although he’s undeniably gifted, not everything comes easily to Stefan. He’s worked extraordinarily hard to become the person he is today (if you haven’t read Quiet go buy it right now– we’ll discuss later). He also experienced just a whole string of bad luck, missed opportunities this year (I’ll refrain from giving examples); he took each one in stride– took an hour or a day to mourn– and moved on with quiet determination. And he is wise. No honor or scholarship or acceptance can diminish the skills and character he has developed.
A year from now, this group will all be on missions in different corners of the globe.
This fall, he’ll head to Brigham Young University on the Thomas S. Monson Scholarship– the highest honor awarded to the top 25 male and female applicants worldwide.
As we drove away from the stadium, Stefan said, “I’m glad I did high school my way. I stayed low-key; I was never in the spotlight but I made a lot of friends. I had so many great teachers who pushed me to do my best.”
With those words, I decided to save my tears and mixed emotions for later. For now, I am simply reveling in his quiet joy.