It was as beautiful a day as one could hope for. Yes, the sun was right on top of us, and would be for the next two-plus hours, but there wasn’t a cloud in sky. My wife and I spread our blanket out on the green lawn, sat next to some friends of ours, and slathered on the sunscreen. We then took out our cameras and prepared for the show to begin.
No, this wasn’t one of those suburban yuppie “Concerts In The Park” thing where, for at least an afternoon, it is socially acceptable to sit out in public and sip a wildly overpriced plastic cup full of Pinot Grigio and listen to some local band cover Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” or [shudders at the thought of it] anything by Jimmy Buffet. This was one of the time-honored events of late spring in America, something that occurs everywhere from the smallest town in Bush Alaska to downtown Manhattan. Something that parents and their children both look forward to with a crazy amount of anticipation:
Ah, but this was not just any graduation for us. Not when you have kids that are just 3 and 5 years old. No, this was preschool graduation for our older daughter, Maddo.
Yes, that’s right. Preschool “graduation.”
Now, not to sound like Old Man Rex here, but back in the day, there was only one graduation you ever had that mattered and that was from high school. Yes, I know there is college graduation, too, and I went to mine. But the only one that I, and I think most of my friends cared about, was the one we had on June 10, 1986, and that was our graduation from Gov. John R. Rogers High School in Puyallup, Wash. This was a true milestone, and rightfully so. After 13 years of grade school, junior high and high school, walking up on stage, getting that diploma and knowing that everything possible was in front of you marked what was probably the defining moment of my life up to that time. And that includes the first time I watched an X-rated movie at my friend John Weekly’s house.
Today, however, there are graduation ceremonies for everything. Not just high school, but junior high/middle school, kindergarten and, yes, even preschool. Maybe it’s part of this mentality that pervades society now where “everyone is a winner” and we have to give everyone a medal for just showing up? I don’t know for sure. But I do know that as a parent, you have to do certain things for your kids. And that includes going to your daughter’s preschool graduation.
We got the notice about Maddo’s graduation about a month before the event. Not surprisingly, we were more interested in it than she…
My Wife: Wow, Maddo. You’re going to be graduating preschool pretty soon!
Maddo: Can I watch Scooby-Doo on Netflix?
But, as it got closer to the Big Day, at least some of the occasion began to impart upon Maddo. Nearly every night at the dinner table, she would sing a few verses of the songs that her class was practicing for the Big Day. To my shock and surprise, none of them were from “Frozen”, but she certainly was nailing the verses and chorus to the earworm that is “Best Day Of My Life” from the band American Authors.
[In a sign of generational change and that I am definitely old and not up to date on what is popular anymore, I have to admit that had no idea who American Authors even were until I looked the song up on YouTube AFTER Maddo’s graduation.]
Eventually, the day arrived. We drove out to Maddo’s school and set ourselves up and burned under the sun for a while until the emcee, the school director, got on stage and began the program. Before we knew it, Maddo and about 40 other five-year-olds were up there, wearing their handmade caps complete with a hand print on the top of the mortar board, and knocking into each other like pinballs. The music began, the kids sang “Best Day Of My Life” and two other songs and it was as adorable as a litter of puppies. I put a fresh 8-gigbyte memory card into the video camera and ran the thing like I was Martin Scorsese. My wife, with a new 4GB card in our digital SLR camera, fired off shots like a true paparazzi. We couldn’t help ourselves. That was our baby up there.
After the ceremony, we gathered up Maddo and got in line for a ridiculous amount of food that people had brought for a potluck. We ate with our friends, roasted in the sun, and Maddo, who had enough food on her plate to feed a squad of soldiers, took about three bites of her stuff and then went off to play with her friends. She was too busy having fun to eat. When she came back to us, she didn’t even notice that I was eating her drumstick. Hey, I fried that chicken up and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste.
It was only a preschool graduation, and yes, it was completely unnecessary. But, yeah, it was a pretty big deal, nonetheless. And I had to admit, it was pretty cool to see my girl get recognized for…well, for whatever it is kids learn in preschool these days. She was excited and had a good time. And with a trip to get ice cream store ahead of her, she was being very well-behaved, too.
And for my wife and I, that was the best award we could have gotten.