The first day of Kindergarten, September 2000. We learned that year Jack is deaf; his Montessori teacher detected it almost immediately. As parents we were stunned. Neither we nor our family physician had detected anything out of the norm at annual exams; as a toddler he was quiet and mild-mannered, and we considered ourselves fortunate to have such a child. He has a mechanical defect in his auditory mechanism that renders his hearing to less than 25% in both ears without hearing aids; now he is of the age where corrective surgery may be an option, an option we leave entirely up to him.
Fast forward fourteen years filled with Scouts, Little League, strict curfews, love and support, and all those experiences we thought would prepare him for young adulthood. We think he’s turned out okay…
…his MaturaReisen (graduation holiday) week in Nice, France earlier this month with a group of like-minded guys who discovered that the generous spending allowances from their parents only covered two days’ worth of purchased Internet, meaning stops at cafes for the free WiFi were frequent; and many, many meals were cooked in their villa rather than enjoyed at restaurants. 
The morning of Senior Prom found the MaturaReisen gang at the Nice airport navigating the rescheduling of a canceled return flight to Vienna. They all worked it out, however, making it home in just enough time to shower and dress for their last hurrah before graduation. 

A couple of days later, two most delightful surprises at the high school sports banquet. The first, Jack being named MVP for the varsity baseball team; and the second, being named the AIS Gold Knight for outstanding male scholar-athlete. Funny enough, he treasures the MVP award more, as he hopes for a walk-on spot on the university baseball team.
 
Anna Grace was also recognized at the high school banquet. Qualified middle school athletes are invited to compete at the high school tournament level; and Anna Grace helped the AIS cross country team earn a medal in Athens last fall. Run, Anna Grace, Run!
There are no photos from the Senior Dinner hosted by the U.S. Embassy this week, alas. Jack came home from graduation rehearsal that afternoon with flu symptoms and so we did not attend. On the bright side, it was “just” dinner at the embassy, and with my lovely updo from the salon I looked rather pretty for the delivery guy from the Chinese restaurant that night. 
Graduation, June 2014. Full IB Diploma in one hand, and a University of Michigan acceptance letter in the other. He’s aiming for a career as a civil servant, perhaps the foreign service. Godspeed to you, son. Go forth and make the world a better place. We could not be more proud.
Why, yes. I am in heels and on tip-toes, and can just barely reach his cheek.

 Though, he still has a little way to go to catch up with dad.

 Practicing for her turn in five years.