Friday, May 16, 2008

Graduating (and graduating some more)

My soon-to-be eighteen year old daughter is graduating today. While she knows it is an important milestone, the idea of graduation has been cheapened by all the previous ones. Nowadays, in our neck of the woods, children graduate from preschool, kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade, and now high school. Hopefully, there will be a couple more, for we expect her to finish college and graduate school. For her, this graduation is bittersweet, in that she leaves behind some friends, but she will also leave behind a school that she has outgrown, intellectually.

We live near the local schools, and traffic was a bit of a mess this morning as parents and grandparents were making their way to the high school gym, where the kindergarten ceremony was about to take place. The fifth grade graduation will take place today; the middle school held their ceremony last night. Indeed, folks who have several children or are related to those who do, have to shuttle around to several of these events. As a teacher, I attended quite a number of high school graduations, and as a parent, this makes seven graduations.

The ceremony tonight is almost secondary to all that goes along with it— establishing a bank account to deposit monetary gifts and to pay bills in college, going to goodbye parties, attending the senior breakfast, going to “Intro,” which is the program for incoming freshman at her chosen post-secondary school, and then moving out of our home. These transtional months are a pivotal time, and much of her future happiness and success will depend on what happens as she begins college.

Like Janus in classical mythology, this is a time to look forward, and to look back. We’ve gone through some pictures and other memorabilia, to decorate for her graduation party. As we looked though the boxes, we laughed at her kindergarten class picture and put back some really embarrassing yearbook mug shots. My daughter may not realize the momentous aspect of this hour of her life, but hubby and I do, so we will no doubt be a bit misty eyed, as we watch her pick up the diploma that acknowledges thirteen years of her life, and of ours.

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