Hello and welcome to a happy, mid-May Saturday here at the Wannaskan Almanac. Today is May 15th.
Yesterday, the Kindergartener graduated.
Now, I have to be honest. I'm the parent who sits in the corner rolling her eyes and snickering at all the bouquets and balloons bestowed on these little graduates. I mean, really. They've got twelve more years to go, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. With graduation comes a sense of completion. Isn't it really just a dirty trick to tell a kindergartener they've "graduated" only to take them school supply shopping again in August? Surprise! You get to do it all over again! Twelve more times. Seriously, folks, that is some mixed messaging.
I have gone through four kindergarten graduations of this, so I know what I'm talking about. However, with the fifth kid, I will admit, it was an entirely different experience because this was the last one.
My parenting energies are placed primarily on just getting kids through the hoops. Potty training, preschool, swimming lessons, riding a bike, reading, tying shoes, some kind of elementary-age activity (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, basketball, 4-H). Then junior high, try some sports, consider some side gigs like babysitting or grass cutting, puberty, driver's ed, dating, harder classes, bigger paying jobs, adolescence, the college search. And let's not forget that it's a 24/7 job to attempt to build a positive self-image, good mental health, an appreciation for physical activity, and a foundation of values for the kiddos to fall back on when their peers veer from all this wholesome goodness parents push on them.
I'm the little parent that could chug-chugging along, "Just one more thing, Just one more thing. Just one more thing."
But when it's your last one - the caboose kid - the track stops. And there's a view. A new perspective.
I've said it before that the greatest gift in having a large gap between the first kid crew and the second "littles" crew is perspective. I now appreciate all the little gifts and joys hidden in plain view (like Easter eggs in a video game, the WAKWIR* would say) amidst all the parenting chugga-chugga. The Kindergartener's graduation was one of them.
And so I have no problem eating my humble pie today. To say, "I'm sorry," for making fun of all those parents and grandparents for making such a big fuss about Kindergarten graduation. You folks were on to something that I was too snooty or too in a hurry to see.
A perk, however, of having five kids is this: Even when lessons are learned late, there's often still time for do-overs.
Just to make sure I wasn't turning into irrational mush, I asked the Kindergartener what he thought about Kindergarten graduation. In short, he already had his outfit picked out and that was a week ago. When I explained that his dad and I would be there but all of his siblings had class, he gave me a mournful look and said, "None of my siblings will be there?" He was so forlorn, I thought he might cry. I sprang into action, putting out an S.O.S. in our family Snapchat group.
The Oldest offered to join via video call. The high schoolers agreed they could get out of homeroom to come down to the early learner's wing of the school. I got permission from the Third Grader's teacher to miss a little math.
Our family filled Section J of the socially distanced seating.
The Kindergarteners entered the gym single file wearing black-paper mortarboards with yellow-string tassels. Pomp and Circumstance played over the loudspeakers. We rose in honor of the esteemed graduates. Our little guy had a front-row spot, standing erect as possible, his arms stiff and straight at his sides, no doubt what the teacher asked for plus extra effort. His earnest face searched the crowd, then relaxed when he eyed his personal cheering section.
The elementary principal gave a speech followed by a video recap of the year and a few encouraging comments from the kids' teacher. The kids sang "Onward" by Teresa Jennings, wowing the crowd with actions that accompanied the lyrics. ("We are moving onward.") Upon receiving his diploma, we learned our Kindergartener aspires to "work at Marvins so he can be with his dad...and possibly become a sensei." The celebration closed with a cheerful performance of "U, Me" by Teresa Jennings replete with actions. "You, me, will be, friends forever, yeah."
All this took less than thirty minutes. My old, hurry-up self would have said, "Yay! It took less than half an hour!" But my wiser self took in the moments spent together, as a family, celebrating someone we all love very much.
Then the new graduates exited stage right and back to class. The teenagers hurried off to fourth period. Dad returned to the office. The Third Grader and I sang the "U, Me" refrain (with the actions) while I walked her back to class. The Kindergartener requested "fresh doughnuts" for his graduation meal. So, I headed over to the grocery store and bought a dozen.
Onward, indeed. And full of gratitude.
On This Day
*Wannaskan Almanac Kid Writer-in-Residence