When I first sat down to write this, my intention was to poke a little fun at the number of graduations a kid now goes through before even reaching high school. In my head, I always saw graduation as the moment when you’d gone through the entire required educational process and were handed a diploma that would get the truant officer off your back and you could now get a job.
I kind of understood the pre-school graduation and equated it to three-year-olds playing soccer. It was more for the parents than the kids really. But when you add on kindergarten, elementary and middle, it seemed like we were pretty much taking the wind out of the high school graduation sail. I get the whole, “build their self esteem” thing, but at some point it starts to feel like overkill. As I told my daughter, when you run a marathon they don’t hand you medals at the 1 mile, 10 mile, 16 mile and 22 mile marker. They make you go the full 26.2 before you get your accolades and hardware.
So as we entered the gym for my daughter’s fifth grade “recognition” ceremony, I politely placed my soapbox under me and prepared to roll my eyes from time to time. About two kleenexes in I realized I was toast.
Flashbacks of her first days of pre-school and kindergarten flashed through my mind as did all of the times I sat with her in the cafeteria during lunch, fought over what she was going to wear to school and pushed her to finish last minute projects. I thought about all of the music pageants, talent shows, teacher conferences, days getting her on and off the bus. And yes, I got a little emotional more than once.
And that’s when I realized how great it was to experience those emotions knowing we weren’t quite done yet. I was able to appreciate her milestones without the dreaded, “man that flew by so fast and now she’s gone” moment, which is still several years away. Watching her reach this mile marker, knowing we still had a way to go helped me grasp the fact that I still had time to be with her and enjoy this time of her life with her. And then I glanced at her two younger siblings thinking, “we’re just getting started.” Then I smiled and pushed my soap box under my seat.
Yes, it’s kind of crazy to have graduation ceremonies every few years, but hey, think of them as the water and gatorade stations they have along the marathon course. Sometimes we need a little refreshment to recharge the batteries and prepare us for the next leg of the journey. In this instance that part of the race is middle school. God help us.