Last night, the quasi-son graduated. *sigh*

My baby is all grown up.

To give you a little history, we first met Chris last year when we moved here and took over the store. He had his hair dyed black, had at least 4 piercings in each ear and painted his fingernails black. He looked scary. But upon him opening his mouth and talking, he turned out to be a very bright and sweet teenager. He plays electric guitar, he DJ’s at the radio station, he works for me, drives his grandmother wherever she needs to go, most importantly, he’s the first teenager I’ve ever met who’s really comfortable in his own skin. Think about it, were you comfortable with yourself at 17 and 18? He could give two damns about what anyone thinks of him. He has a beautiful smile, a gentle spirit, and loves to act goofy. He also found out from Howard that I used to be pretty deep into heavy metal music. So he’ll start singing a song when we’re at work together and I’ll end up rocking out with him. I love that he does that. I think everyone in this village would agree that he’s a wonderful child. I really don’t think he has an enemy out there. He might look scary but is far from it. His father lives in Anchorage and he’s being raised by his grandmother. His mother died when he was a small boy.

I felt maternal toward him from the start. I asked about his grades in school. He confessed that he’d fallen behind and was worried he wasn’t going to graduate by the end of the school year, not because he got bad grades but because he had so many assignments. I promptly scaled back his hours to three days a week, three hours on those three days he worked. No more than that. He complained about not having any money but I told him he wouldn’t have any excuses for not getting his work done. His grandmother thought it was a good idea too. I think he liked being hassled about school and being pushed to do well by both myself and Howard. The principal also began giving us periodical progress reports regarding his grades. We were honored to be included. He worked his butt off, but managed to get everything done and did very well.

Last night, being we only had three graduates, each one got to show off their very own slideshow chronicling when they were a baby to now. Of course, my Christopher got very creative with his. And my dog, if I thought he was adorable now, he was an absolutely beautiful baby.

At the end of his slideshow, he even rolled credits. He thanked his dad and grandmother, he thanked “the town folk” and then, he thanked “Chris and Howard”.

One tear leaked out of my eye as I sat in the audience, but I held it together.

When the ceremony was over, we all lined up to get to him and hug him. By the time I got to him, he was openly crying. I think he was overwhelmed to know how many people love him. And to know that his high school days were really over. He gave me a big hug, and whispered “I love you” in my ear. I squeezed him back, sucked back my tears and told him I loved him too and that I was so very proud of him. When he hugged Howard, he told him the same thing, I could see Howard trying to hold it together too.

Later, we went to his grandmother’s house where she held a reception for all the graduates. We ate good food and socialized. I told Chris that I really liked his slideshow, and he replied “that’s because you’re a metal babe and you just liked it for the music.” Then he winked at me and gave me another hug.

Congratulations Christopher. We couldn’t be any prouder if you were our own son. You are bright and shining. Never let that fire die.

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