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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

8th Grade Graduation

So, I don't remember having a Graduation ceremony before...you know...ACTUAL high school Graduation.  We just didn't do those sorts of things "back-in-the-day."  But my own kids? Yeah, they learned to zip up their coat in pre-school and they "graduated" to the zipper-upper line.

It started with Pre-K Graduation, then Kindergarten Graduation, then 6th grade Graduation....

Now I'm not saying it isn't a wonderful thing to sit an a newly remodeled auditiorium, which nobody thought to install an air-conditioner or de-humidifier in...it's simply lovely.  I do it for every recital and choral concert of the year. 

I just can't help but wonder how much of it is for real. It seems like a political move by the school staff. Lining them all up on stage in front of us...the new Interim Superintendant giving a big old speech...the Vice Principal (closely followed by the Interim Superintendant) keeping his legs crossed so long the kids beside me started timing it and wondering if he'd be able to stand up without cramping when it was his turn. Babies crying, people clapping before the end when the Principal specifically said not to....It often makes me wonder what the heck we're really all doing there.

They give out a "best boy" and "best girl" award at the 8th grade Graduation.  I have to wonder how that works exactly. How exactly do they determine who is best? Grades? Personality?  What???  Because as I watched the kids all cross the stage (except for the 30 students who have to attend summer school to pass the year) I was proud of them all. Middle school is tough.  I'm sure each one of those kids had someone in the audiance who thought they were the best.  I know my kid did.  

After all the hoopla is complete, a Graduation Ceremony is a great excuse for ice cream after the event is finished. And for some new clothes and shoes, which can later be worn to funerals and weddings. Planning ahead for these potential future events is a good reason to buy the clothes a size large and try to see them as investments, though the truth is my Grow-A-Kid usually only wears the outfit just that once. As a rule of thumb, I've trained myself to consider these things the "bright side" even if I'm likely deluding myself.

As the stage-crossing ceremony commenced I found myself squinting at the kids as their names were called, imagining their faces as I remember them in my heart.  Remembering...the kids in my groups when I chaparoned for the Space Center, and the Oliver House Museum, and even the Punkin' Patch and the Easter Egg Hunts.  Remembering their soccer games and lacrosse games...and even what some of their parents looked like back when we were all in lamaze class. Tonight, these kids looked so grown up. So much like high schoolers.  Where did the little Kindergarteners with their little mini cap and gowns go?

Everybody kept saying how time had flown, how fast they had grown up.  And they really really have.  Watching my 14 year old son swaggar across stage felt like a surprise all of the sudden.  Somehow, the "I want peanut butter and jelly with no holes in the bread" days flew by, flew into these "Mom, she's not my girlfriend...just a friend who's a girl I SWEAR" days (as the phone rings at midnight). 

For me, having kid has been something like when you adopt a kitten. You love playing with the little bugger, you adore it to pieces and you know it's inevitable that it'll grow up...but as it chases string and lets you smother it in kisses...you can't imagine it in a shirt and tie...crossing a stage...shaking hands and graduating....I mean you can't imagine it as a full grown cat.

Yeah, I don't remember having all of these graduations when I was a kid. We didn't have them. We say...that times are faster now. That the computer era has changed us for the worse. We say that things are faster now and everyone is in a hurry.  Yet, here we are...listening to the Interim Superintendant tell us how great our town is, and waiting to see our kids cross a stage and become high schoolers. 

We're all slowing down as a community, to create an event to celebrate our kids and how amazing it is that they're all heading into a new phase of their lives. And this process is something a part of this new generation. 

Somehow, sitting in the nose-bleed seats and inhaling the world's most humid air while listening to the kids next to me (who happened to be my daughters) snicker at the Vice Principal...I realized, some changes are for the better. And hey, our generation may actually have something figured out, that our parent's didn't.


  1. I just attended my daughter's 8th grade graduation. Which was a trip, because a year ago, she wasn't my daughter.

    And afterwards, she chose White Castle for dinner.

  2. We only had 8th grade and high school graduations. I skipped my high school one. Apparently mom and dad didn't think I was serious, so they were in attendance when I didn't walk when my name was called.