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This was the day we were working toward.

And by we, I should say our son Scott. He did all the work, and Saturday he graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He’s my baby. I know, I know. He’s 22 years old, but he’s still my baby. He followed his older brother by 3 1/2 years — who is a UCA graduate, too.

It has been a long, sometimes rocky, never-a-dull-moment road to today.

Whereas my older son was the quiet kid who followed the classroom rules, my younger son once led his preschool class in a rendition of “Shake Your Booty.”

I knew it was going to be a long 13 years when his kindergarten teacher expressed concern the first day of school. She asked students to draw pictures of themselves. Scott took a red crayon and drew loops on his paper. He told the teacher: “It’s a roller coaster. I’m on it.”

Being imaginative and out of the box can be good qualities.

He is blunt, like his mother, and he talks too much sometimes, like his mother. Some teachers appreciated his sarcastic sense of humor; others did not. I had him write notes of apology to teachers on more than one occasion.

With a high ACT score and good grades, he received scholarships to college. I worried that the kid who had to be dragged out of bed in the mornings, and who lost textbooks and papers on a regular basis in high school would have trouble, but he did great. We had long, late-night talks when he was angst-filled about his future and wondered whether he’d ever find a job. Occasionally, he would mention taking a semester off, but that did not go over well with his parents. He changed majors, from journalism to creative writing, and he excelled in both. School always came easy for him, but that doesn’t mean he liked it.

He volunteered for three years at a women’s shelter, his choice, during college, and it made me so proud. Although patience is not his virtue, he has always been good with kids and animals. He helped with child care while the women were getting counseling, and he was named Volunteer of the Year for his work. He met a woman who worked at the women’s shelter who became his friend. She lives in Kentucky, and that’s where he’s headed in about a week. I get homesick for him 10 minutes after he leaves our house, so it will be a big adjustment for me when he lives eight hours away.

He is my child who shares — sometimes too much information — and we’ve gotten closer the past year. I still annoy him, but I think I annoy him less than I used to. He has told my husband and me he appreciates everything we’ve done, and that we’re good parents. That means everything.

His knowledge of the world, whether it’s history or current events, never ceases to amaze me. I learn something from him almost every time we talk. I will miss his rants about everything from the U.S. educational system to the video-game industry. He constantly makes me laugh, too.

My husband ran into one of our younger son’s former writing professors the other day, and she talked about how talented and smart he is, and what a good writer he is. If only he believed that. Another teacher wrote that his analysis of a poet who spoke on campus was “stellar,” and that she was going to miss him.

I’m so proud of the person he is, and I know he’s going to be OK. I will be, too.

We’ve done our job, and he’s doing his — but we’ll be here if he needs us.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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