Close your eyes for a sec and think back to your last day of school in 8th grade. Did you have a cap and gown? A diploma? An amplified ceremony? If the answer is yes, wasn’t it a great moment in your young adult life?
Well. Not these days.
Tomorrow is DeAngelo’s last day of middle school. It’s been a long hard year for him – heavy homework, progressive projects and rocky report cards caused all kinds of terrifying upsets in our household. From groundings, tear fests, even to me getting all Hulk on him and *throwing* our Christmas tree across the living room (it was lightweight and fake, easily repositionable, that’s all I’ll say about that). Despite all the emotional and academic turmoil, DeAngelo got through it all. Every day/night he spent hours working on homework. Often I felt guilty, like he was being cheated out of doing normal kid things because he had to devote so much time to homework that stressed him out. BTW: We have eight different types of algebraic calculators here in case anyone needs to borrow one…
It really took a toll on his self-esteem. So the whole year Patrick and I kept telling him how awesome he will feel at the end of the year when he graduates. I remember my 8th grade graduation as clear as a streak-free arcadia door. It’s the first time in your life when you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Hearing your name called out in a microphone among a crowd of onlookers and peers was just so dang *empowering*, even in that goofy cap and gown. I explained this to DeAngelo so he would have something like this to look forward to. A moment in the spotlight. All year, both my family and Patrick’s have been talking about “the party” after the big event.
Maya is a different story. She is in fifth grade and each mid-term she makes the Principal’s List. Not just Honor Roll – the Principal’s List, which is the top percentile of the class. So her school has a little ceremony four times a year where all the smart kids and their parents show up for a breakfast. Each kid gets called up to the podium by the principal and they recieve a gold embossed certificate with their name and a bulging packet of goodies for free scoops of ice cream or a day of roller skating at the local rink, etc. Maya totally rocks at this school thing. I think she gets it from my brother who was always in the accelerated classes. I ditched math and typing to work on our school yearbook and newspaper and have learned to deal with the consequences. Maya won’t ever have that problem. She works harder than a NASA scientist and always comes through with shining colors. This is so hard on DeAngelo! He struggles to get C’s, and hearing about Maya’s roster of A+’s makes him grit his teeth and listen to Linkin Park full blast with his headphones.
But finally, the light at the end of the tunnel has arrived – 8th grade graduation! His time to shine!!
Last month, I hadn’t recieved any paperwork in the mail about this long-awaited ceremony or where to buy his cap and gown. I called the school to ask. Wanna know their reply?
“Oh, our school district doesn’t do graduation ceremonies anymore, we haven’t for a while…”, said the office lady on the other end of the line.
“What! Why not?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “We have a promotional party from 9:30-11 am on the last day of school instead. It’s just for the kids.”
What a rip off! What the heck is this world coming to? No 8th grade graduation? AND – parents are discouraged to attend the promotional party because “it’s just for the kids” and they don’t even have a name-calling ceremony. How about I give THEM a name-calling ceremony? At the end of this gig, the kids just go get their end of the year packet and that’s the end of it. Hello high school. Hello more torment.
Now I’m thinking about my poor little DeAngelo who worked so hard to get to this point for his moment of glory for nada. Zilch. Regardless, both sides of our family are having big bashes for him and he is so excited at the thought of getting graduation gifts that he can’t even decide what he wants.
DeAngelo will be just fine, he is very proud of himself. This morning on the way to school, he couldn’t stop smiling. “I’m so happy, Mommy!”, he said. It’s good to know he is not as bummed as I am about this whole thing. Plus after his last day tomorrow, he has other things to worry about about: pre-high school math camp starts in two weeks.
Betcha they don’t have a graduation for that either.
* All content/photos copyright, © Kathy Cano-Murillo, 2008.