Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away.
This is the first page from “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” the last book published by Dr. Suess before his death.
It is totally appropriate for today.
Today is the day we have been planning ever since the first day I sent him off to school. The day I’ve been anticipating when he brought home his first A. Today is the day we bring Nick to college and leave him there.
It seems like just yesterday he walked out the door holding his big sister’s hand, heading for the bus stop a block away where he would get on a big yellow bus and zoom away. He came home that afternoon with eyes shining.
Even before he started school, Nick loved to learn things.
When he was two years old, he was peering curiously at books and begging us all to read to him. He had twinkly blue eyes, a smile that sparkled, a dimple on his cheek and blonde hair that stuck straight up no matter what I did.
By the time he was three, he was reading beginner books and had a vocabulary that blew people away. In a squeaky voice, he instructed Grampa Gary on sippy cup issues.
“Something is totally out of control here,” he said, handing the cup back to Grampa, who had put the wrong top on an unmatched bottom. The resulting leaky cup was a problem Nick felt obligated to solve.
At age four, he patiently explained to my mother how to use the mouse on a computer.
“Just point like this, and click, Nana,” he said. “The little arrow will take you where you want to go.”
When he was in second grade, he noticed a stack of books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase and was enthralled.
“What are these?” he asked in fascination.
He had discovered an old set of encyclopedias. I think he eventually read the whole series.
In second or third grade I brought him to see a high school version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." He had just watched the movie in school, and when he saw his Sunday School teacher on stage playing to the role of Millie, his face just lit up.
"Do they let just anyone do that?" he asked.
That was when he fell in love with the stage.
His first roll was that of "The Grumpy Shepherd" in a church production.
I think it was sixth grade when he was cast in the junior version of “Music Man.” That was the first time he played Winthrop Paroo, the little boy with a lisp. (He played it in the adult version later that year.) He had already played a children’s chorus part in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-coat” and was Jesus as a 10-year-old in a multi-church production. He actually performed that part on his ninth birthday, and was embarrassed afterward when everyone sang Happy Birthday to him.
Junior high and high school brought Knowledge Bowl, the drama department and more. He took trigonometry for fun. He played larger roles on stage, entered into other competitions with enthusiasm, and during his senior year finally found the time to join Speech. He ended up going to state for discussion.
When he played the Scarecrow in "Wizard of Oz" his senior year, it was fun to hear little kids gasp when he moved for the first time, after hanging motionless on a post for the first 15 minutes he was on stage.
Most of his senior year seems like a blur to me. It went too fast. He was so busy. He was never home. And now he’s off. Off to Great Places.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.