Time to take on the world

Published 11:37pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Can it be true that the youngest of my nieces and nephews are graduating from high school already?  Has it really been 18 years since their parents brought Addison and Davis home for the first time?
I know more of this year’s high school graduates that usual.  That is partially due to the fact that the twins (a word they don’t really like) grew up next door to me.  Mary Lou and I have had the gift of watching them and their friends grow up within sight of our kitchen window.
Being an uncle is a bit like being a grandparent.  You get to be the cool guy because you don’t really have any of the hard responsibilities of being a parent.   You can sneak them a bit of candy along the way, and talk about things they can’t really talk to anyone else about.
Having a boy and a girl to watch at the same time is truly amazing.  Instinctively they liked different things.  Davis liked trucks and playing in the dirt.  Addison liked dolls and dressing up.  They were obviously different, but yet so much alike.
As children they were adorable, but watching them grow into young adults is the best.  Their conversations with us are treats.  We get to catch glimpses of their hopes and dreams, as well as their fears and doubts.
For the first time, they will be living more than a bedroom apart.   For 14 years they have gone to school together, most of the time taking the same classes.  They managed to find their own identities and their own areas of achievement in high school. Now, college and the world will give them even greater opportunities to find their way.
They will attend different colleges.  Davis is making his way to the University of North Georgia and Addison will follow their older sister, Bailey, to Georgia Southern University.  Ironically, Bailey is transferring to the University of Georgia so Ernest and Karen will have three kids in three different universities at the same time.
When I look back at the words of wisdom I gave my daughters, nephews and nieces that went before Addison and Davis, I am proud to say that the advice holds as true now as it did then.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Never again will you have the chance to so dramatically change your life and the way you feel about yourself.
Get involved.  Play a sport.  Volunteer for a charity or help a child in need.  Be a part of something bigger than yourself.  There is a place for your unique talents out there.
Smell the roses.  You don’t have to conquer the world in the first year.  Take the time to experience all that makes this such a special time in your life.  Take a course in college just for the fun of it.
Work hard.  This is not the opposite of smelling the roses.  Make it easier on yourself from the beginning by being on time, taking good notes and not waiting until the last minute to study.  Being ahead in class is a lot more fun than being behind, especially at test time.
Take your Bible.  Honestly, most college kids don’t spend a lot of time reading the Bible, but it is a connection to your faith and a reminder that there is help when life gets a little tough.
Remember the road home.  Remember those who worked hard to get you where you are.  Remember your friends, even as you make new ones.  Most of all remember your family.
Your family, all of them, want to see you succeed.  Give them a little credit.  That door that you walk out of on the way to college and the rest of your life doesn’t close.  It will always be open.  That’s why it’s called home.
You are the last of this generation in our family to graduate from high school. Have fun. We love you guys.

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