I’m Glad They Are Going | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

I’m Glad They Are Going | Mark’s Remarks

By on June 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

So many parents are gearing up for the weeping and gnashing of teeth at this time of the year. Their children are graduating and are going off to college. 

Now, after you look at the title of this column and before you think I am awful, I must tell you how much I love my kids.  I’d do just about anything for them, and I have to stop myself often from doing too much or being a total pushover. In a way, I feel the same way about my students. I want to take good care of kids, and even if I fail miserably from time to time, I want the best for all of them; offspring or students.

And even though I had an absolute blast in high school and have so many dear friends from those days, I still look back and remember what a strange and often gross sub-culture high school was. After all, we were kids. There were so many unpleasant and strange “pecking-order” rules about the hierarchy of the high school environment. I often wish I could give my children and my students a crystal ball for a glimpse into the future, because seeing the state of things 10-20 years after high school might be a source of encouragement for them.

I see some of my former students be-bopping around in high school, having a great time. My own children learned a lot and had fun, too. I’m not knocking the fact that our schools can be great places.

But I also see kids only worrying about how they look, who their friends are, what car they drive, and so on. I also see them showing complete disregard for any sensible things they’ve learned, and go about drinking and taking drugs, often with their parents knowing full well what is going on. Kids who carry around phones with full access to all the evils of the world.

And you know me, I always blame parents.

In these small-town, affluent communities we live in, you see so many young people living a somewhat shallow life, looking down their noses at all the unimportant stuff. Appearances are so important in our little towns, and often we find brokenness and imperfection underneath the shiny and polished personas. This type of upbringing carries over into our schools, and the kids who appear to be hip and “with it” often have a lot of hurt in their lives.

Therefore, as the title says, I’m glad they are leaving. I’m glad to see kids breaking free from small-town mentalities.  I’m glad they get to go out in the world and experience some things. I also hope they meet themselves head-on and realize the world owes them nothing; that they are not entitled.  I hope they learn to be kind, to value the right things, and to realize they are responsible for their own actions. 

It’s often no one else’s fault but their own.

Some of these kids need hands-on learning when it comes to life, and I hope some of them get far enough away from home that they can do it.

Am I slamming all our parents in our little towns? Heavens no. I’m being my judgmental self, for sure, but I will tell you there are plenty of grounded, down-to-earth parents around here who have taught their children to focus on the right things and have given them plenty of good things to carry out into the world. But those kids still need to get out of here, too. 

I felt this way when we dropped our oldest off at school.  He would be four hours away. I think God prepares you for them leaving by allowing some conflict to enter the household.  By the end of the summer, we were ready for him to go. He was at the height of his “my-parents-don’t-know-a-thing” attitude and there were plenty of times over the summer that Michelle and I were ready to call him a cab. Or call him something else.

But he was ready, too.  Even after we got to campus and were helping him set up his room, there was a sense of urgency and the unanswered question in the air seemed to be “When are you leaving?”

He was ready, I tell you.

After we returned to our own lodgings, we knew we’d only have one more brief meeting with him before we said goodbye. We would not see him again until October. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, a little like sending him off to kindergarten (which seemed like yesterday) but knowing he wouldn’t come home at 3 p.m.

Since then, we’ve experienced his metamorphosis and are now pretty smart in his eyes.  Or so it seems. He appreciates home. We are elated when he visits or when we get to visit him, but we are also glad he’s comfortable and happy to return to campus. And that he’s experiencing the world away from small-town attitudes and materialism. We are glad when he goes.

Our younger son will soon move out as well. It will be tougher, perhaps, as he has always been the softer, clingier of our two boys. But he’s ready too. He’s equipped. And we are ready.

Yes, as hard as it is, I’m glad to see them all go.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.