Monday, June 7, 2010

Graduation Address: Train Up a Child

My third child and second daughter, Betsy, entertained us with this little speech at her high school graduation celebration on Saturday. She is bound for Union University this fall, on a Provost's Scholarship to study art.

Train up a Child
Graduation speech of Elisabeth Grace Marsch
June 5, 2010

Being a teenage girl AND a homeschooler, it seems appropriate for me to quote Pride and Prejudice:

``It is amazing to me,'' said Bingley, ``how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.''
``All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?''
``Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.’’

Isn’t it also true that every graduate, whether from high school or college, seems worthy of the utmost praise? I think the real reason for this is that graduations are not for the sake of the graduates. They are meant to honour the parents and teachers; hence the excusability, even propriety, of the shameless displays of academic achievement commonly seen at gatherings such as this one. Conveniently for me, all of my parents and teachers are economically contained in two people, which means I have fewer people to thank in this speech. What luck!

So please, see any and all of my accomplishments in the light of the faithful work of my father and mother. “’Mid toil and tribulation” my parents have worked diligently to put food on my back and clothes in my mouth and give me a good education, and they deserve praise for that.

In a homeschool study class which my mom taught this past year we studied some excellent literature, and in reading the book Frankenstein I came across this passage in which the infamous scientist describes his parents and childhood:

“I was their plaything and their idol, and something better--. . . it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control, I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me.”

It is always distressing when people act like their lives are perfect and their homes untouched by sorrow, because it strikes such a hollow note. Considering the tragic end Dr. Frankenstein met with, apparently a perfect childhood doesn’t have the best results either. My family is not perfect; my life has not been “one train of enjoyment to me;” but God has filled my life with more riches, physical and spiritual, than most people can boast. My sister and brothers are fun and wise and loving (though the boys probably won’t admit to that last one). My parents have lovingly devoted their wisdom and experience and knowledge to teaching me, and I’m glad to say that they have also disciplined my siblings and me faithfully, which is something that takes courage to do. Accordingly our homeschool motto is, “The floggings shall continue until morale improves.”

I can trust God to take care of me over the next four years and I know that many of y’all will pray for me as I get ready to leave. And I can trust my family to pray for me, to encourage me, and to instruct me faithfully for many years to come.

Thank you all very much for coming to my graduation party. My parents feel bad that I’m going so far away, but I would like to end by reminding them of the infamous misquotation of the Bible, “Train up a child and away she goes.”

1 comment:

tonia said...

what an eloquent daughter you have raised! lovely. and congratulations to you all on your accomplishments.