I’d been doing some thinking about celebrating a child’s achievements and the outcome of the celebrating. Graduating from High School is of course the gate way to adulthood, however, is every step of the way as important to party about? What is gained by the child besides having some fun towards the end of school (isn’t this already a part of every grade’s curriculum) as a way to say bye for another year? Already I have drank a pot of coffee to stir these thought into motion and they seem just as thick as the coffee still. Here we go anyways…
Let us start in the way-back-machine at the time of Pre-K. Really, this is just a different kind of daycare with better learning and shorter hours. I understand that children at this age get excited about a lot of things a lot of the time and sometimes get excited about nothing (hence the onslaught of curable ADD and ADHD, which in my opinion is a myth brought about to sell drugs but more about that another time). With a class together for the last days of the school year, they will enjoy the small party offered by the teacher and school without so much as a stray thought about the loss of NOT graduating Pre-K. So why do we feel it is necessary to boost a child’s ego at this early age with a grand scale performance and the certificate acceptance walk when they would be just as content with a “good job not getting into too much trouble this year” from their parents? Where do balloons with class of 2009 written on them or bouquets for the children of this age needed, really? OK, enough about the con side of this coin, I should also look into what children of this age get from participating in these rituals.
The first thought is not about the faint possibility of a child feeling achievement but the continued learning it offers. To prepare for the graduation night they go through the steps of learning and memorizing the songs they will sing, to wait their turn as others perform on the stage, to be quite and respectful of others speaking, and to be orderly moving on and off the stage. These are life lessons learned at an early age and we hope that will continue through the rest of their lives (or we really really hope).
Moving forward, Kindergarten is a much longer time to spend in school, what with all those grades (K through 5th grade) to work through and all! There is a lot learned in this short time, but do we really need to go through the motions again with a faux graduation for the second time? There are still two more steps to go before becoming the educated (unless your child falls into the “no child left behind” program, which just means a get out of jail free card to move on) adult we hope each of our children become one day. The children at this time will yet again be content with the song that sings about school being out for the summer (and forever) knowing they will be moving on to or trading up for a better jail sentence.
Now we find our children in the drama capital of schooldom, Junior High. Besides what they learn in the classroom, this is where they learn the real life skills and climbing the fake corporate ladder of success. Why would it be a fake ladder? Because in the end they only learned to beat out there brethren without gaining much else besides new enemies of their state of being. Social classes are established, rank is handed out as to where you fit in, and lunch money is still being taken before the start of each day. This is actually where graduation should begin. Not only does this prepare a child for what is to come, but congratulates them for surviving the first years of teen hell. More is to come from High School and a greater understanding will be established in the last year or two of High School, but can you really ask for more while your child is trying to find out who he or she is during those first two years wearing the traditional black years and head-banging (or rapping) their way through it.
Finally! The final four years of life!! Some of the children will actually believe the last year of school IS the end to everything and the apocalypse is sure to follow. Most will be looking forward to those drunken, “420” days that are to come from college hazings. This is the whole point of all dreadful, pain-staking, humiliating days that brought them from the 5 year old to adulthood and it comes down to this day. We have made it to a day actually celebrating the accomplishment made by our child. Balloons and bouquets be plentiful! Amazing that this piece of paper can now get them such jobs like burger-flipper and stocking shelves legally is baffling. They had to subject themselves through all that torture because if they are over 18 years old one of the requirements is a G.E.D. or diploma for getting a job and pay taxes. Go figure… Congrates to all that are graduating this year.