It’s graduation party season. There is one ceremony that I can’t wait to attend. The pre-school graduation of my 5-year-old nephew, Gavin.
Gavin is totally obsessed with being a pirate. When we go in public he wears a bandana and a pirate hat. He even wears a holster for his sword. His dad gave him an old leather belt that he wears over one shoulder across his chest. He usually gets some reaction from well-meaning adults who feel like they are playing along with his dressing up when they comment, “Nice hat captain!” But I don’t think he sees it as dressing up. In his mind, he is a pirate and this is just what pirates wear.
I don’t know if his mom will let him wear his pirate garb to this very important commencement ceremony. But I do hope that in the commencement speech (sure, they could have one) someone will encourage all of the girls and boys in Gavin’s graduating class to continue to be true to themselves. They are each unique and beloved children of God and at age 5 they are free to express their own truths and be authentic—even when pretending to be the fictional character, Jack Sparrow.
Even at age 5, I can see that he is revealing who he really is—creative and focused. I want to encourage him in that—and I hope other adults will nurture that creativity and authenticity in him.
I pray that as adults, we will celebrate and encourage all children to remain true to themselves and that we will encourage them to use the gifts that God has given them. I pray that will be true for every graduate at every age.
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs and editor of Café.