Grade 8 graduation is an odd time. We watch our 13 and 14 year-old kids dress up as formal adults. Yes, some more formal than others, but there are suits and dresses you might expect to wear to a high school graduation or wedding. Some of those kids try to be on their best behaviour, or what they think is best behaviour for adults (set a good example, folks). Some play to the crowd, or think they are, and some or so shy and nervous it’s almost painful to watch. Most are nervous but can’t admit it.
They walk into the gym to the music, have a seat, sit through various teacher and principle speeches, a dozen or so award presentations, and then accept their diplomas, all while a horde of parents and relatives look on and take more photos and videos than they have in the past six months.
Then it’s over and we shake hands and accept hugs, have a small glass of punch and maybe a slice of cake then watch as they all file into the gym/hall/get on the bus for the traditional graduation dance/party/gathering. We go home and come back at 11 or 12 or whenever it’s supposed to be over and in between try to keep our younger children in their normal routine and get things ready for work the next day, all the while with a wistful mood.
And why am I thinking about this on the 5th of September when the graduation ceremony I’m remembering was on the 25th of June? My desktop background is set on a slide show and it’s just shown me a picture of my son in his graduation suit, posing in front of the stage. For my son, my first born who graduated from Grade 8 on the 25th of June, today was the second day of high school and the first day he was expected to do any real work.
He didn’t enjoy the last several years of public school for a variety of excellent reasons, but high school is fresh and new and more suited academically to the way his brain works. He’s in a good mood so far. Which helps me be in a good mood.
I look at him and throw my mind back to 1984, thinking about Grade 8 graduation and my own first few days of high school and just how damned long ago it was. Just at the moment, that’s making me understand very intensely my forty-one and two-thirds years of age. I feel old.
Yes, the pride is there too. I have three fantastic kids, all very different and who will all grow up to become fantastic adults. My son is just the first one to get to high school. With luck, I can gently steer them past some of the stupid things I did during my high school years. Not sure how well that worked for my parents, but I certainly have hope.
But I started high school twenty-eight years ago, so yes, today I feel old, but I also feel pretty good.