A couple of days ago, my oldest son graduated from preschool.
I enjoyed a lovely commencement speech and sang along with the kids, “My life is a circle! A never-ending circle!” It was a totally momentous way to recognize how far he’s come in the 2125 days that he’s been alive. It seems like just the other day that he graduated from the Meadow program at age two (his sandbox thesis was amazing) and when he got a certificate – a genuine certificate! – after the Seashore Room at age three (he got extra credit for innovative train track construction), my heart burst with pride. By age four, he had amassed a couple of swim ribbons, at least three soccer completion letters, and was a graduate of Camp Doodles Summer Camp. My brain power might be receding faster than Prince William’s hairline, but my kid’s graduate degrees are growing by the day.
And thank god, because I’ve been so bereft of milestones to mark. Once my son rolled over, crawled and took his first steps, my husband and I didn’t really know how to acknowledge the passing of time. Birthdays are okay, but nothing really says “YOU’RE TWO YEARS OLD!” than a piece of parchment, followed by a post-ceremony buffet!
I’m just thankful that I’m able to give my son what I didn’t have. I was one of those poor children who attended a PlayDo eating program in a neighbor’s basement down the street when I was a toddler. My baby book doesn’t contain one piece of laminated praise for my ability to grow another year older. I shudder to think what I would have become without Girl Scouts and my little sash with badges to prove that I was amazing.
Looking back at my son’s already long and fabled education, I’m sad that I don’t have a Josten’s yearbook or a Glamour Shots photo session with a florescent sunset background to commemorate those spirited years. Why didn’t I get personalized graduation announcements, so that I could sob into the $1.99 tissue insert when I saw my son achieve the 14th biggest moment of his education? I suppose I’ll still have the opportunity to do that at his kindergarten graduation – there IS kindergarten graduation, right? And what about grades 1-5? (I mean, if there’s not a ceremony or certificate to mark it, how can I be sure it happened? Is that what Facebook is for?) And oh man, I can’t wait to honor the painful and terrifying experience he’ll have in middle school by listening to an awkward rendition of “Time After Time!” I worry that by the time we get to the “Oh the Places You’ll Go” valedictory speech in high school, I will have to create a Kardashian-like photo/diploma wall.
I suppose I could just slap my son on the back and say, “I’m proud of you!,” but think of all those awkward graduation conversations with that one kid’s parents whose names I can never remember I would miss out on. Think of the confusion that my son would feel at the end of the year, “Is 1st grade over? It doesn’t feel over. Am I a 2nd grader now?” How would we ever know if we’re doing a good job? Or if our kid is special? HOW WOULD WE EVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON? No way. I do not feel comfortable removing constant affirmations from my child’s life. Doesn’t my kid – and yours – deserve an A+ Apgar scroll, a framed PhD, and everything in between? You bet your ass they do.
If we ever did decide to graduate from graduations, I would need it announced on handmade vellum with raised calligraphy, followed by dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.