Endings, Beginnings, Changing For Good

Hawk 2012.
My husband took this photo at our son’s soccer game.

Miles run yesterday: 10

Words written in novel so far: 14,230

Squirrel attacks on me while running yesterday: 1

My son graduates from 5th grade next week. When people mention it, I find it silly: passing 5th grade and going on to middle school is not optional or a particularly huge achievement. But when they asked us to send in a photo of him as a baby for a slide show, I knew I would be doomed.

I have a Graduation Problem, the way some people have a Wedding Problem: I tend to cry. Even when I don’t have a horse in the race.

For one thing, as a mom with only two kids who have not yet graduated from anything but preschool, I have been to an alarming number of graduations. I’m not sure I could count them.

Although I a.) didn’t like school and b.) especially hated newspaper projects while in school, I have been assigned various high school graduations to attend and write about for my local paper. Go figure. Be careful what you dislike as a kid, I say. Karma has a sense of humor.

Absolutes at graduation ceremonies:

1. It will be hot, with little air circulation.

2. Some families will scream out, “Wooooo, go Errrrrrriiiiiicc!” even when the administrators ask that applause and cheering be held until the end. (I secretly wished my family would do that, and they never did.)

3. I will cry.

For a couple of years, the big graduation song the choruses would sing was, “For Good” from “Wicked.”

Imagine a warm, gymnasium-like setting, the lights dimmed, teenagers in shiny gowns singing:

It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You’ll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend…

[And lots of other words, then…]

Who can say if I’ve been

Changed for the better?

I do believe I have been

Changed for the better

Because I knew you…

I have been changed for good…

This is when I start crying, notebook in hand, wishing they would get past the maudlin part to the “Go Errrrriiiiccc!” part.

Keep in mind, I know none of these people. I do not know the parents, the students, for the most part, the administrators either. Still, the tears.

When my sister “graduated” with her Ph.D., it was not in a sea of gowns but rather at a speech that she gave with an official-looking laser pointer and lots of very big science-y words that involved a protein or riboflavin or something pharmacological. There was no music or singing or inappropriate cheering. But I still got teary.

So next week, even though graduating from 5th grade isn’t optional, I’ll be the mom at my son’s graduation who is bawling but pretending I have a cold.

I am praying they don’t play, “For Good.”


17 thoughts on “Endings, Beginnings, Changing For Good

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Choruses seem to have moved on to Katy Perry’s “Firework” for graduations. It is much easier to stay dry eyed through.

  2. Melissa says:

    I don’t know when your graduation takes place, but ours is June 9th. And just so you know you are not alone I will be bawling like a baby…particularly if they play that @#$%@ song…that will kill me! The other thing that kills me is that after this ceremony, I will be the mother of a college student….What the?!?! Have a great weekend!

  3. crubin says:

    I don’t recall having a graduation for anything but high school and college. Now there’s one for kindergarten, 5th grade, and 8th grade as well. Was I just deprived or is this a newer phenomenon?

    If you don’t want to cry, just shift your thoughts to how much closer your child is getting to college and how you don’t have nearly enough money saved yet to get him through four years. That should sober you up. 🙂

    Ten mile run yesterday? Impressive!!

    • annewoodman says:

      It’s definitely a newer phenomenon… either that, or I lived in an area not emotionally connected to graduations.

      Yeah, we are not ready for college–that is sobering.

  4. David Gentry says:

    Anne, really well written and touching.

    Please tell Daryl that he takes professional photos. They are amazing.

    Love, Dad

    • annewoodman says:

      I’ll tell him. He did really interesting things with an alternate version of that photo that I might post in the future. It makes the hawk look very silvery and haunting.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    It’s a new thing. We only had high school graduation. But earlier this week, a cousin posted on Facebook asking how to iron an acetate graduation gown. Her 8th grader stuffed it in his backpack to bring home. 🙂 Did I even need to make it clear he was a boy? 🙂

    Hmm, Carrie’s advice to think about paying for college might MAKE me cry! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Haha! What else would you do with a graduation gown but stuff it in your backpack? ; ) Sounds like the teachers weren’t prepared for 8th grade logic.

  6. E says:

    Gurrrl I will be right there with you passing the tissues back and forth. (Not used, of course) I will have 2 ceremonies that day with my girls. I probably shouldnt wear my contacts because they will end up on my cheeks. Oh and btw, you failed to mention that you threw me into the angry squirrel’s path 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Don’t worry–there will be time to discuss the squirrel in a later post. ; ) You will definitely be a slobbering mess this week… I will buy a box o’ tissues to be prepared.

  7. 4amWriter says:

    I’m a mess at graduations, too. My nephew graduated high school last year, and I got teary-eyed.

    Unfortunately, graduation in our school district is at fourth grade. Fifth grade they go on to the scary-big middle school. This was a recent change made by the kind of people in administration-clothing who obviously have never had children and were never children themselves.

    My daughter will be in fourth grade next year, so I have another year to go before I am attending another graduation ceremony. Trust me, I’ll be bawling.

    Best wishes to your son–and you 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow. Finishing fourth grade and moving on? I feel your pain. I think sometimes, these life changes are just as difficult for us as parents as they are for our kids! It puts things in perspective when I look back at my own childhood and what my parents went through. ; )

  8. First off, Nice picture.

    I would recommend you look into waterproof mascara and a box of tissues. 😉 It’s okay to get teary, just don’t embarrass him too much.

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