Older son will soon be taking a walk. He will wear a gown in his school colors and parade from the holding area in the school gym across the football field. He will sit in a sea of caps and gowns for several hours as school district dignitaries are introduced, as guest speakers speak about the importance of this occasion and as the top achieving student in the group speaks. Then once again the graduates will line up and wait for their name to be called. When they hear it, they will step forward and walk across a makeshift stage and shake hands with a school administrator and return to their seat to wait for the others to have their 30 seconds of recognition.,My son asked if he had to walk. My knee jerk mom reaction was “um, yeah, you do!” I was thinking only of myself and my need to see him cross the stage and be handed a piece of paper. But as his senior year comes to an end, I am rethinking my initial response.
Today my son stood on an actual stage in a small auditorium and spoke about an engineering project he worked on with two of his classmates during his last year in the program. I listened to the rehearsal in my living room this morning and helped my son with his shirt and tie. As he left I told him I’d be right behind him and that I couldn’t wait to see the real presentation. When I entered the auditorium there was a panel of engineers, my son’s teacher, a few other students from the class, and many empty seats. Husband and I were the only parents.
As the previous presentation wrapped up, I wondered where the parents were. I realize at this age kids can drive themselves where they need to go and parents aren’t held captive anymore. But does that mean that elementary school programs deserve more parent involvement? Are graduation caps and gowns the only things that get parents to come and see their kids once they enter high school? Am I crazy for reconsidering my position on the whole graduation circus? I listened intently to the presentation I had already heard many times forcing the questioning voices to be silent. I was overwhelmed with pride, so much that some leaked out of my eyes and streaked down my cheeks. This is what it’s all about. Not sitting in a stadium waiting. I was there when he did something truly meaningful. He actually demonstrated what he learned. A walk doesn’t demonstrate that.
So, Older Son will not be participating in his high school graduation ceremony. It won’t be his only graduation ceremony. I am confident he will do great things and the walk across a stage for a handshake and a piece of paper will be more meaningful for me as his mom as a spectator because I won’t be with him all the time watching him practice his education. I’m content with his decision to spend his graduation night celebrating with just his family.