A month ago, my eldest nephew graduated from high school. Yesterday was his graduation party, and I bought him a book, The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. I picked it up at Target one day and I was stunned by the (potentially accidental) metaphor it is for the kind of people we meet and the way we feel sometimes.
This is the letter I wrote him, taped to the inside of the book:
My dear boy, You are just about the age I was when you were born. I could not have imagined what life would bring between our graduations. From the joyful to the devastating, from the funny to the mundane, life never stops being a surprise, and it should be no other way.
At every moment, I have loved the person you are. From the chubby baby you were, to the toothless flag football player, to the shaggy haired boy, to the honorable man you are today, you have never ceased to make me proud.
Because I am older, I am supposed to impart some kind of wisdom. Because you are so young, you must try to listen. I’ll begin with what is not said often enough: the most true things in life are most often found in children’s books. Dr Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and so many others will speak truth and humor to your soul if you let them.
It’s true that the things you will learn in the next few years will prepare you for life, but I do not mean academics. What you learn about yourself and others will last longer than any Intro to Chinese History class will. The book I’ve chosen for you, The Day the Crayons Quit, is about the people you will meet. You will meet people who:
Like red, are overworked
Like purple, are a little picky and neurotic
Like beige, feel ignored
Like gray, are weary
Like white, feel empty and unimportant
Like black, are more than what they first appear to be
Like green, are mellow and easygoing
Like yellow, is a drama queen
Like orange, wants to feel special
Like blue, is at the end of their rope
Like pink, feels overlooked
Like peach, has been left out in the cold
And like Duncan, who just wants everyone to get along.
My dear boy, with all you are, try to handle each person as best you can. Learn to be the best kind of friend to all kinds of people. Notice who is around you and strive to make their lives better.
But Poke, don’t forget that you will often feel like these crayons as well. You will feel mellow, overworked, and all the rest, sometimes in the same day. Feeling this way is ok, but you must never let them push you to quit. Use each of these things to push you to continue to grow, to become a full, complete person.
The days ahead are an adventure only you can live. It is one of my greatest joys to get to be a part of this adventure.
Congratulations on your graduation, and with excitement for all that is to come, welcome to your next chapter!
I love you, Aunt Cindy