Once More with Feeling
Today is the first day of school for Cameron. It’s the first day of his first senior year. I say his “first” senior year because he’ll be having at least two senior years before he graduates. In some ways, it kind of sucks for Cam that he’s in this situation of repeating his senior year. While all the hubbub that goes along with being a senior in high school can be exciting, how exciting is it when you know from the get-go that you’re not graduating with the rest of your classmates? The fact that Cameron is considered a senior this year was so far out of my realm of thinking that when I attended the open house/meet the teachers/get your schedule event last week, I immediately went to the 11th grade table. No ... Cameron is a 12th grader now. Great.
I’ve explained to Cameron that he won’t be graduating this year, but I worry about how he’s processing this. I think he understands, and yet I’ve noticed when completing forms, like job applications, which ask for graduation date, he enters “2013”. That could well be because he knows he’s graduating “next year” so it makes sense that “next year” would be 2013. Or has he misunderstood my explanation altogether?
It might’ve been feasible that we could have rushed Cameron through his outstanding credits, and he might have been able to graduate “on time,” but it made no sense to do that. Cameron needs this extra time to develop academically and socially. He’s not ripe enough to be a high school graduate. And I’m nowhere near ready to figure out what comes next for Cameron, after high school. So we’ll take these extra years as a senior and use them to grow, develop and mature. I’ve asked Cameron’s school to structure his schedule so that he can have internship period in the afternoon, and hopefully he’ll gain meaningful skills at a “real” job. I worry about how his experience this summer  might impact his readiness to embrace new employment opportunities. I worry that Cameron might find a paying job, only to have it be too much to handle in addition to his workload from school. I worry that I interfere with Cameron’s employment counselor’s and transition teacher’s plans. I worry that I’m misplacing my worrying energy and should be worrying about something else altogether.
One thing I don’t worry about is my decision to pass on the Extended School Year this summer. Having the summer break and the resulting need to fill Cameron’s schedule with worthwhile activities was good practice for post-secondary life. I’m 98.7% certain that there isn’t a post-secondary program which Cameron can easily roll into after high school graduation. While Cameron was fairly well occupied this summer, it wasn’t always easy to keep him that way. And I only had to concern myself with about five weeks over the summer. I can’t imagine how challenging it would be to face “ever after” with filling Cameron’s schedule.
So, while it may be somewhat difficult and confusing for Cameron emotionally when he doesn’t wear a cap and gown next June, I’m sure he will buck up and appreciate graduating that much more when the time comes. I know I will!