Congrats to the non-graduate

Congratulations to my son who dropped out of college.


Congrats for surviving your adolescence — avoiding both addiction and suicide.

Congrats for not getting arrested (there was that hearing that one time, but it wasn’t even evidentiary).

Congrats for (eventually) dealing with depression and anxiety head on.

Congrats for being a loyal friend and (by all appearances) a really great boyfriend.
(Congrats on the girl friend, too).

What was it that specialist said? “You can teach a kid to read, but you can’t teach them to make friends”.

Congrats for discovering the pleasure of reading at age 22.

Congrats for hanging on to your curiosity in spite of an academic experience seemingly designed to crush you.

Congrats for taking good care of yourself with balanced meals, sleep, smoothies, and work outs. Congrats for accepting that meds are part of your self-care.

Congrats for knowing how to throw an outfit together and look like a million bucks (something I never got the hang of).

Congrats for exploring your neighborhood — which in your case includes the Rocky Mountains and requires some athleticism and courage.

Congratulations for not giving up.

Congratulations for being the kind of kid that sends a thoughtful card to his mother on her birthday and sends flowers on Mother’s Day.

Congrats for harboring a soft spot for animals, especially dogs.

Congrats for converting the long-standing use of negativity and failure to get attention into the habits of health and small successes.

Congrats for registering to vote and planning to vote blue straight down the ticket.

Congrats for wanting to help others.

Congrats for holding your head up while your friends graduate and move away.

Congratulations for becoming the kind of man I am proud to call my son.

And also, congratulations to all the graduates I know! And congratulations to their parents.

27 thoughts on “Congrats to the non-graduate

  1. Nancy

    Dee~ This is beautifully said and speaks for so many of us mom’s, who could write her own “Congrats” letter. This post was perfectly timed for me. Blessings for your boy as he continues on His way!

    1. deemallon

      Glad about the timing. We worry and worry as moms. It is nice to crow a little and celebrate too.

  2. ravenandsparrow

    This made me think of my own sons and the ocean of gratitude and love I feel for them. Growing up is very risky and difficult. I wish all the best for both of your boys.

  3. Liz A

    Long I studied and worked in and for academia, but I have come to question many of its missions and methods over time … the lecture hall is rarely conducive to finding one’s way to an authentic life. Congrats indeed on finding other ways.

    1. deemallon

      I don’t mean to make the whole education machine sound misaligned. There were a lot of positive and useful accommodations and many good experiences for D. But overall, esp high school (which around here is highly visibly tracked) it was pretty defeating and I often wonder if we should have pulled him out. To what, was one question. And how pay for that AND college was another.
      My older son fared much better.

      1. Liz A

        Likewise it was not my intent to malign. While I question much, I do not question all about academia … but it is troubling to see it becoming so much more about job skills rather than life skills. Humanities majors are in peril, some being eliminated entirely (English lit, seriously?). There is no question I learned much as a student and then as an adjunct instructor I learned even more.

        1. deemallon

          We live in one of the best school systems in the state, which means it’s one of the best in the country, which means it’s one of the best in the world. Really. I realized after the fact that I sounded perhaps more critical than I meant — who knows how either of my kids would’ve fared in a place without the resources, good will, and skill to address learning issues. It’s just — I wish this (we’d sent him to herd cattle in Argentina like one of his friends?); or that (sent him to private school (like a couple others))? or wish the other (signed him up for Outward Bound (like one more we know))? I don’t know. The nice thing about gratitude is that it cuts through a lot of this.

          They say liberal arts are dying. What a shame. On the other hand, a plumber’s certification sets a person up so they can spend the rest of their life reading….

    2. deemallon

      PS. Have you listened to the incredibly popular Ken Robinson’s ted talk about education? So so good. “Academia targets above the neck and slightly to the left” was one of his many wise critiques.

  4. Tina

    Beautiful written .. the love in your words are so heartfelt they knocked me over all the way here in Milwaukee . Congratulations to all of you.

  5. June Wildflower

    I wish I had been smart enough to skip college. What a waste of time and money it turned out to be. Sometimes I wish my mother had this type of perspective. Nice of you to recognize all these wonderful highlights.

  6. Jen

    So lovely. He is indeed a lucky boy to have this from his mother. Confirmation that his decisions are alright and that he has the love and support he needs. I work at a Univ. Believe me, it isn’t for everyone. There are some who definitely should not be in University, but they don’t know what else to do I guess. Sometimes it can be the waste of 4 (or more) precious years. I’m so glad son is faring well. Congratulations!!!

    1. deemallon

      Thanks for the kind words and insights. The landscape for college has changed radically since I attended (graduated in 1980 — a job was mine for the refusing — even as an English major who couldn’t type!!).

  7. grace Maestas

    all these accomplishments…serve him so Well as he goes on into young adulthood. He
    can be very proud. He can take that love of reading and curiosity any where at all. Those
    two things are the greatest of all any of us could hope for our children.
    Congratulations!!!!!, Dee’s son!

    1. deemallon

      I’m thinking I can guess why, but not 100% sure. Anyway, the specifics don’t always matter — especially in the transfer of hope!


Leave a Reply