A couple of days ago, Jeanne Sager from CafeMom asked me what I thought about a post she'd written titled "Holding Graduation Ceremonies for Kindergarteners & 4th Graders Is Absurd." I directed her to a post I put up on "kiddie graduations" last year and said that this year, I was considering not writing about it (even though the subject interests me), because people are so sensitive to trivializing the ceremonial gesture. Graduation -- ANY graduation, regardless of age and grade -- is a big deal for kids (and for parents, too), and I don't want anyone to think that I don't see the good in that. I do.
I have many friends whose preschoolers and kindergarteners have "graduated," and most of the time the pictures are adorable and the ceremonies seem fun and somewhat understated. I haven't seen any pictures of toddlers riding bedazzled ponies up to the stage to receive their "diplomas," and fundamentally speaking, scholastic celebrations are a positive thing. Children are honored for fulfilling academic achievements, which empowers them to continue making strides in their education.
However, I agree with Jeanne's post, and not just because of semantics. It's about more than disputing the basic definition of "graduation," which, as Jeanne points out, is "conferral or receipt of an academic degree or diploma marking completion of studies." I also think the heightened importance parents put on graduation (from preschool, kindergarten, 4th grade, 5th grade, 8th grade, etc.) actually might be doing kids a disservice for feeling like they've "graduated" every single year until they actually graduate.
This is expressed not just through attending a simple ceremony and forking over some cash for a class cake and cap and gown (which are now made in size 4T and up). Some parents are throwing big parties, buying stacks of gifts, and showing up at ceremonies with flower bouquets and balloons...all for toddlers. I imagine those parents who do this will continue the trend throughout their child's academic career, which, I suppose is fine, but whatever happened to kids just getting out for summer without calling it a "graduation"? Schools can still hold end-of-year student assemblies (some of which now have "open mic" portions for parents to wax poetic on their kids' awesomeness) without the caps and gowns. Crazy concept, I know.
Also, why is it that so many of the parents who freak out about 5-year-old graduation ceremonies don't seem to have a firm grasp on the English language? If your top priority is planning a big party for your child's "graduation," but you don't know the differences between their, there, and they're, you might want to reevaluate some stuff and borrow your kid's textbooks more often.
With all that in mind, here's a tweet I woke up to today:
Remember, folks: Not everyone cares as much about your kid's graduation as you do, especially since they know they'll probably be reading about graduations every single year until the kid turns 18. To parents, these milestones are wonderful, but to everyone else, they're just...absurd.
1. Taylor PreSchool Graduation
I like the way Stefanye capitalizes Taylor PreSchool Graduation like it's a formal event. Something tells me everything that involves little Taylor requires proper nouns. Taylor Recital, Taylor Soccer Game, Taylor Half-Birthday Party, etc.
Also, 100+ people? Yikes. You know she relished in adding that plus sign at the end, as if to say, "This is the party of the season, folks. Be there or BE DEAD TO ME."
Ummm....only 30 seats? Sorry, Stefanye, but you're living in a fantasy. Bringing my own chair is a deal-breaker. The only place I'm willing to bring my own seat is the beach. Any outing that requires me to bring a chair and doesn't involve water lapping at my feet means I probably won't make it.
2. P.O.S. School System
Ladies, ladies...this is not that big of a deal. Schools have rules, and sometimes those rules involve not catering to every child's parents and holding a massive ceremony to celebrate how well the children drew pictures and sang songs all year. And THAT'S OKAY. Breathe in and out a few times, grab an ice cream cake from Carvel that says "Happy Graduation," and then move on with your lives.
This is the future of parents whose children are always graduating. Granted, 8th grade graduation is the one that makes the most sense to me, as it's the bridge between junior high school and high school. But with EVERYONE'S kids graduating and inviting "100+" people to various parties, it's impossible for people to commit to attending so many events. How about we all just go back to the way things used to be? Pool parties, hot dogs, and a general celebration to mark the ending of a school year and the beginning of summer, all as one big supportive community.