I still have a hard time not referring to them as “kids”.

Only a few came to me before they turned eighteen, that age of technical adulthood where so few are really mature enough to wear the mantle.

All of them wear that mantle as they dress in the black robes, wearing funny hats because that is the tradition, even though few of them know why.

At a technical college in a rural state, many of my kids young students stay for only two years. They get their Associates degrees, and go off into the real world of jobs and bills, or they find a more prestigious school to continue their education. A few do stay longer, earning their Bachelor’s degrees in Engineering, Computers, or some other technical field.

Some of these young people came to me like a surrogate mom, when I was a Resident Director in the dormitory. Some of them actually called me “Professor” even though I was just an adjunct, a part-time teacher. I’d smile, thank them for the compliment, and correct them.

Only a few of them slipped up and called me Mom…

Every year, more of my kids would leave me. Every year, I would gaze in astonishment at the profound changes that a person can go through in two short years. Every year I would watch them cross the stage with a mixture of pride and relief. Every year, we would walk back across the president’s lawn to the green between the dorms to drink punch, eat brownies, and get that last hug before watching the graduates go off into the big scary world.

I stopped teaching when my youngest was born, though my hubby still works for the college. I do go to graduation sometimes, although I don’t know any of the graduates anymore. Now my kids are all approaching thirty. They have jobs, fiancées or spouses, and they’ve started having babies of their own.

And I have two kids of my own now to call me Mom!

This post is in response to The Red Dress Club prompt about “Graduation.”

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