Last month, I had the opportunity to help out with Kenai Central High School’s after-grad party.
I use the word “opportunity” the same way your boss does when he’s trying to convince you to take on an extra assignment or additional responsibility. Volunteers were needed, I let slip that I was taking the next day off from work, and next thing I knew, I was signed up to help out from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. after Kenai’s graduation.
In all honesty, it wasn’t bad at all — it was one more chance to see all the kids together, many of whom I’ve know since their preschool days.
It is great to see those kids all grown up and excited about the next step in their journeys, whatever it may be. Graduation is also a time to be a little nostalgic, and I felt a little bit reassured that, as much as they’ve grown up and matured, they’re still the same kids at heart that I’ve always known.
Case in point, the young man who couldn’t seem to help himself from knocking the puck into his own goal on the air hockey table was the same one who, at a laser tag birthday party 10 or so years ago, ran around shooting himself instead of the other team.
The more things change, right?
The after-grad party was also an opportunity to reminisce with some of the parents I’ve known since my son’s preschool days. One parent remembered coaching Billy in Boys and Girls Club basketball, where he was nicknamed “The Wall.” Other members of that team went on to some pretty impressive high school careers. Billy’s greatest asset was that he was big and immovable; it is a skill that ended up serving him well on the high school football team.
I’ve shared so many stories about Billy in this column over the years. I think it started with the two Peninsula Oilers baseball players who helped with Billy’s potty training. There was his magic disappearing shirt in kindergarten, our “Star Wars” fandom, and numerous family adventures, from connecting with our nation’s history in Washington, D.C., to zip-lining in Hawaii, to winter holidays at a Chugach National Forest public-use cabin.
There’s been the frustrations of raising a son, too — resorting to singing Barry Manilow songs to get him out of bed and losing a set of skis randomly placed on top of the car, for example. And did I ever mention the time he dislocated three of my ribs with his forehead?
For all the stories I’ve shared, there’s been so many more that I’ve kept to myself. I’ve watched Billy go through the trials and tribulations I remember from being a teenager, but some of those things you just need to be able to work through on your own, without your dad putting it in the local paper.
Now it’s time for Billy to start writing his own stories. He did well in high school. He finished with really good grades, made some great friends, and even earned some really nice scholarships. He knows where he wants to go next year, and what he wants to study — which is much more than I could say when I finished high school. In fact, my major was “undecided” until the middle of my senior year of college, and even then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up — but that’s another story.
So, congratulations to the Class of 2019 as you embark on your next adventure. I can’t wait to hear the stories!
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• By WILL MORROW, For the Peninsula Clarion