As You Graduate, Promise Me This - MetroFamily Magazine
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As You Graduate, Promise Me This

by Christina Mushi-Brunt

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

It’s just hard to see my little man not be my little boy all the time. For years I’ve been taking care of this little boy, right? Making sure that he is loved. That he feels like he belongs wherever he wants to be. He wants to go out into the world and do great big things and what I worry about most is they won’t look out for you like us. They won’t root for you like us. So. Here’s the deal. Wherever you go from here, you have to promise to take care of that little boy for me. Make sure he never forgets where he came from and he never doubts that he is loved and he never lets anyone at those big fancy places he’s going to tell him that he doesn’t belong there … ~ Rio Morales

Those words were spoken by Rio Morales to her son, Miles, in the animated movie Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. She speaks them before he leaves to begin his own life adventure.

I confess that when I heard that heartfelt speech tears came to my eyes. Rio Morales spoke those words to her son with such conviction. She wanted Miles to recognize the time was over for her and his father to protect their little boy. He was entering the adult world. She wanted him to promise that he would continue to nurture and care for the little boy she still saw inside of him. For him to understand what a gift he was and to not allow the world to tell him any different.

I heard this speech for the first time while retwisting my son’s hair a few months ago. During our bi-monthly sessions, I twist his hair while he introduces me to a new (or old) favorite movie, anime or television series and we talk. We also talk about everything ranging from his latest music interests to his friendships and the state of the world. I treasure these moments and have soaked them all in because I know they won’t last forever.

Our firstborn child will be graduating from high school this month. He isn’t off to a life of adventure as a superhero — as far as I know. I mean, Rio didn’t know her own son was Spiderman. The little boy we have had the privilege of raising will soon begin his first solo adventure as a college student in fall 2024.

As I reflect on Rio Morales’ words, I think about all the ways we have shown the little boy who now towers over me that he is loved. All the times we assured him that he belongs: in our family, in his schools, in his community. All the ways we have protected him, sometimes from outside circumstances and sometimes even from himself.

And now, this newly minted 18-year-old, is heading out into the world. A world that may not always love him. A world that may not always believe he belongs. A world that may harm and not protect him.

But, I am confident we have given him as many tools as we could for him to continue to take care of the little boy within him.

As your not-so-little one is graduating from high school, may they continue to take care of the little one inside of them. As they make their way into the world, may they love the little one inside of them fiercely. May they show up fully in spaces in which they may be led to believe they don’t belong. May they protect their little one no matter the circumstance.

Christina Mushi-Brunt is a former professor turned freelance writer and public health research consultant. Christina, her husband and their three kids reside in Moore, where she is active in the education community.

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