Did the wrong people have the balloons?
At the end of the Celebration of Boarding Chapel on a recent Friday, the Year 12 boarders gathered on the front lawn and released balloons. The rest of us stood and watched as they floated away, getting smaller and smaller in the distance.
It was a symbolic act on the part of each graduating boarder, but I wonder whether it was the wrong people releasing the balloons. Maybe it should have been those who were not leaving who “let go”.
There are times in our lives when we have to let people go, but it can be difficult to do this. Parents can struggle – the first day of kinder, starting Prep, beginning high school, starting boarding school, going to uni – with varying degrees of anxiety. Deep down we know that all of these stages are positive in the child’s life, but that does not necessarily make it easier to do.
In January this year my wife and I said “safe travels” to our adult son at the airport, as he began the overseas adventure of his life. We lived the next few days surrounded by a rather grey cloud as we adjusted to being “alone”.
From time to time he tells us of his plans, and our anxiety levels respond accordingly. Over the weekend just gone he has been coasteering off the coast of Northern Ireland. This involves jumping into the sea off coastal formations of varying heights and then exploring caves and other features only accessible from the water. To us on the other side of the globe it sounds risky (and perhaps looking at a YouTube clip was not wise), but in the end we have no choice but to “let go”.
Last week the school community let our Year 12 students go. It was time to loosen the ties. We needed to take a big breath, step back, and trust that our work to prepare them for greater independence has been effective.
In Chapel this year our themes have included respect, fairness, tolerance, loyalty, compassion, honesty, friendship, thankfulness, perseverance – significant values in preparation for independent decision making. Families as well have given guidance and support.
And although it still may not be easy, now it is time …