On Tuesday, I had the honor of attending our school’s Commencement Exercises, the future-oriented euphemism for what the rest of the world calls graduation. Although there were four kids commencing who I had known for their entire lives, I was not there as a guest, but as a volunteer. The tradition at our school is for parents of juniors to host the reception for the senior class. As families of the kids on deck, we were expected to decorate the soccer field and provide freshly-baked cookies and fruit for after the ceremony.
Even though it was not my child commencing, it was surreal and extremely moving to hear grown-up speeches given by CJ’s former T-ball teammates and world-class musical performances by students I have known since birth or kindergarten. I also had the important assignment of collecting the commencees’ caps and gowns after the ceremony and handing out the real diplomas – to replace the faux scrolls given to them by the headmaster.
(As part of those volunteer duties, I sadly had to tell a few kids that their diplomas were being withheld because they hadn’t returned library books or team uniforms – no excuses accepted…their first real life lesson.)
As I witnessed and participated in this emotional rite of passage, instead of reflecting on what’s in store for these kids for the future, all I could think about was whether there would be enough baked goods at our reception.
The stakes were high, you see, because in 2001, we had hosted a reception for the same class, then fifth graders, when they moved up from elementary to middle school. And the event that we put on as fourth grade parents was marred by an unforgettable glitch: we had run out of chicken wings. In fact, there was such a severe h’or deurve shortage, that we had to order pizza for the kids, who were staying at the school for a party. (Since then the procedure has been simplified – no finger foods, just baked goods.)
Now, seven years later, could we redeem ourselves?
I am pleased to report, with relief, that our reception was lovely. The floral decor – lemons and succulents – was understated and classy, and there were even several extra trays of cookies. The only minor issue was that a strong breeze flapped the tablecloths around a bit, but that was hard to avoid because our soccer field is situated in a micro-climate – It often is warm and sunny on all the surrounding streets, while the bleachers are ravaged by gale-force winds.
So, not only is CJ now just about finished with the stress of junior year, but the parents of the class of 2009 are almost done with the stress of having to show off our catering skills to the class of 2008.
Onward, you amazing kids! May you always have enough chicken wings.
thanks for doing all that providing. It was quite an amazing graduation, I thought.
(And fyi, my other (nameless) school calls theirs “culmination” which is a good six notches lower on the ladder than “commencement.” Always sounds vaguely prurient to me — not to mention being yet another example of progressive school jargon. At least “commencement” holds the implication of beginning… much better I think.)