Attended my niece’s graduation today which is always a bitter sweet ritual; not so much the sadness of watching a young one becoming publically acknowledged as an adult (the final step of that process being the sacred ‘turning 21’ baptismal affair), but the actual irony of taking what should be a genuinely poignant moment in a new graduate’s life and having it get twisted into a Hallmark card full of cliche`s and half-hearted backslapping.
My family, both extended and immediate, were fine.Â Their offers of good will to my niece Emily were genuine enough, as might be expected.Â But to me, it is the school administration & the teachers who turned up the schmaltz quotient as their so called final ‘words of wisdom’ were irritatingly aimed to tug at heartstrings and offer something memorable to the audience in attendance – neither of which really happened.Â Actually, they only served to make me consider the deplorable state of our school systems if these were the educators into whose hands the minds of mush had been commended all these years.
The fellow parents are also a bit of a chore to endure, at least those who feel obligated to bellow their kids name, fire off a blow horn while pointing out “That’s MY little girl” as if this were the Nobel Peace prize.Â My cynical nature fills me with the urge to point out their wanton disregard that most likely we’re collectively witnessing the apex of that child’s lifetime achievements before they, like their parents before them, resign themselves to a career at Denny’s and/or 3 children to be born to them within the next 6 years.
As always tho, I find myself scanning the graduates to see who among them I think is the diamond in the rough.Â Who is the unpopular geek, the awkward girl that will blossom once finally freed from this stifling environment of petty judgement and jealous mistrust?Â Who among them will go to college, discover a strength within themselves that they never knew existed, and burst forth in vibrant new skein, the proverbial phoenix from adolescent ashes??Â Ok, that and who’s the biggest whore in the lot?Â I like to try to guess that one too – although it’s usually obvious by audience reaction (if only the guys are clapping, we have a winner).
In the end, and lest I come off sounding too full of vitriol, it is still good to walk the halls I once trod.Â That was a time of big dreams and endless hope; sometimes it’s good to remember what drove you when you were younger & allow it to refuel a time-worn, jaded heart.Â Perhaps I’m more realistic now, and perhaps that’s as much part of the problem as anything.Â After all, it’s the giddy youngsters full of piss that often accomplish what the learned scholars could not, for they’ve not the experience telling them not to try.
Or that’s how it goes in this version of the story I’m telling, anyways.
In the meantime, congratulations Emily – we’re all very proud of you.