When I completed my last year of elementary school, sixth grade to be exact, I don’t think there was much to it.
I don’t remember any sort of celebration or excitement.
I am fairly certain that I rode the bus home on my last day of school and came home to find my mother taking a nap. I probably dumped out my backpack in my closet and went outside to play for the remainder of the summer.
I don’t remember preschool or kindergarten, but when I flip through old photo albums from my childhood there is no evidence that there was any type of hoopla surrounding the end of either of those milestones either.
I hate to be that mom that tells her kids about the “old days” when mothers didn’t give a shit about your breakfast or lunch and graduating from elementary school was not an event.
Those days of completing grade levels with little to no fanfare, are very much over.
Today one can peruse Facebook to see small children dressed up in graduation robes dominating the news feed. Pictures are captioned with exclamations of pride and awe that this little amazing human completed PRESCHOOL or KINDERGARTEN!!
And then we get to be enlightened by their profound wisdom…
Let’s be honest folks. In China, nobody is impressed with these mild, pathetic “accomplishments.” These children simply did what they were supposed to do. What is the alternative?
Are we celebrating that they didn’t have to stay back a grade?
Are we celebrating that they can do basic arithmetic that will allow them to figure out a tip for a waitress later in life?
Are we celebrating that they understand that a red octagon with STOP inside it means hit the breaks?
What is it exactly that we are soooo excited about?
You did what you dumb fucks?
These kids literally just identified a fucking triangle when presented with a worksheet of shapes. They see a picture of a cat with the letters “CAT” next to it and say “That’s a cat!” Let’s not get overzealous in our attempt to love and cherish them. They actually only did what any moron could do.
Have our overindulgent ways gotten so bad that we think it’s normal to celebrate that our children are just passing through the milestones that every idiot in America is expected to do in order to get into the first grade?
It was with this mindset that I approached Michael’s last days of elementary school. I truly have no feelings either way about him completing this chapter. He has done a great job, and made some friends and next year he will move on to middle school.
As the year came to a close, I got several emails about the pending 5th grade celebrations and graduation ceremonies. I didn’t pay much attention or care, and just made a note of them in my calendar.
As Michael’s baseball season was coming to a close, his team had a series of unexpected wins which resulted in his having a bunch of unanticipated playoff games. As the big night of the 5th grade graduation ceremony approached, I realized with dismay that one of Michael’sl playoff game would be at the same time as his graduation.
“I’m going to my game,” he said matter-of-factly, when I told him about the conflict.
While I was proud of his quick decision to fufill his obligations to his team, I felt a little pang of concern that he would be missing what was being billed as the event of the century by his school.
I called the school to inquire about what exactly he would be missing.
“Well his name will be called and he will go onto the stage and he will get his yearbook and celebrate with his class,” a school administrator explained.
“Ok – so he really doesn’t HAVE to go – he can get his yearbook later, right?” I said with relief.
“Well he’s graduating!! It’s a big deal! He’s graduating from elementary school!” the woman said with a horrified tone.
“Um…yeah, I know…but actually, my expectations were always that he would someday graduate from the fifth grade. I mean that’s why I like woke up everyday and packed a turkey sandwich and sent him to the bus stop, so I guess I am just not that surprised or excited about this turn of events,” I said jokingly.
My joke was met with silence on the other end of the phone.
I emailed the class mom and told her Michael would not be attending.
Michael went to his game and pitched for his team and they won again. This victory and the feeling of accomplishment and success that Michael had that night was far greater than any dumb graduation ceremony could have provided.
Michael and Mr. Gaga and I were happy with our choice, yet we still had more ceremonies to complete.
The first little ceremony wasn’t enough to appease the masses of parents that want to cry and throw confetti on their children every minute, so there was another “crossing over ceremony” planned for Friday.
Friday morning I sent the kids to school and got dressed and headed out to attend the ceremony. Speeches were made, a song played, and the fifth grade class stood on one side of the parking lot and then crossed over to the other side of the parking lot, actually towards the elementary school that they were graduating from. (Apparently making actual sense doesn’t play into the design of these weird ceremonial traditions.)
The parents anxiously stood on the side of the parking lot where the kids crossed over to. We all stood with our iPhones, taking pictures while our children headed towards us.
When Michael met me on the sidewalk, I hugged him and said, “Are you happy to graduate?”
He said, “Yeah, Mom, actually I am really happy!” earnestly.
“Good for you! Why?” I asked.
“Because I never have to come to this school again.” he said smugly.
It was at that moment that I was most proud, because he realized and acknowleged that it was time to go.
He is 5’2 with B.O. He is worlds beyond many of his classmates when it comes to maturity and he’s ready to move on. His remark reminded me of me. No matter where I was, I was always looking forward to the next level, the next step.
I even graduated from my highschool with very little feelings of sadness or nostalgia.
I was like “Get me the eff out of here, I have shit to do,” and that’s how Michael is too. I left elementary school with excitement – looking forward to middle school. I left middle school and chose on a whim to go to a private school where I knew nobody. I left highschool, thrilled that I would be going to school in New York with full intentions to never see anyone from Connecticut again.
Maybe that is a little bit agressive and jaded – but the bottom line is the point of graduation is to complete one level of learning or development and move forward!
I see no reason for pomp and circumstance when all these kids did was do some bullshit common core math problems for 6 years.
Actually, now that I am thinking about common core math, maybe it is I that deserves a ceremony.
Maybe it’s the parents that should receive a certificate and a “crossing over ceremony.” We are the ones that are tortured!! I made lunch for this kid for 6 fucking years! I helped him with his weird math homework that made no sense and helped him to “SHOW HIS WORK” on math problems that don’t matter for hours and hours!! I made him read books for 20 minutes a day!! I helped his dumb teachers with their “math centers” and smiled and was nice to other mothers for 6 years!!!!
6 YEARS!!! That’s 2190 days!!!
2190 days of torture.
I want a fucking graduation robe and someone to call my name on stage.
At least I actually deserve it.
HAPPY GRADUATION TO ALL OF THE LITTLE AMERICAN GENIUSES THAT DON’T HAVE TO STAY BACK! HIP HIP HOORAY!! XO, LADY GOO GOO GAGA