Friday, June 1, 2012

Pomp, circumstance and my little girl in an overpriced graduation gown

My daughter Elissa graduates from high school tonight.

Like millions of kids before her (and undoubtedly like millions of kids to come), she'll put on that cap and gown, have her name announced, walk across the stage, and sit back down an official high school graduate.

We have, of course, known this moment was coming since the day she was born. But it has only become real to me in recent days.

When you first have a baby, someone points out the year they'll graduate and everyone laughs because it sounds so distant. I remember thinking when Elissa was born in 1994, "Class of 2012! 2012? That's, like, the future. I wonder if we'll all have jet packs by then."

(NOTE: I didn't actually think that last part, but jet packs are for whatever reason part of everyone's vision of the future. There's even a band that calls itself "We Were Promised Jetpacks." I love that.)

Anyway, the class of any year that began with "20" seemed an awful long way away back then. And it was. But in the words of those immortal philosophers Smash Mouth, the years start coming and they don't stop coming. And the kindergartner evolves into the middle schooler, who in turn becomes the high schooler at an alarming rate.

And suddenly it's the day when your child graduates and you have absolutely no idea how that could have happened.

I'm not so much emotional about it as I am just plain amazed. There's no escaping the Universal Parenting Syllogism, which states:

All parents of high school graduates are old.
I am the parent of a high school graduate.
Therefore, I am old.

I have four more of these high school graduations to go and I'm sure they'll all be wonderful, but this is the first one and therefore it has its own reasons for being special. By the time Jack graduates, we'll be veterans at this. Of course, we'll also be in our mid-50s and likely older than 90% of the parents in attendance.

But first things first. Tonight we do it for the first time, and I'm so looking forward to it. Over the years I've coached many of the kids who will join my daughter on that stage, and had many of them over my house for play dates and sleepovers. I know most by name and can remember when they were...well, a lot younger than they are now.

And suddenly we're letting them loose into the world. Yikes. Nothing against any of them, but when you're 18, you're a baby. Seriously, you're almost a literal baby. I'm starting to think the secondary education system should extend into the 16th grade or so, just so these kids can get a little more seasoning, ya know?

But then again, we were all 18-year-old high school graduates at some point and we did OK, right? Some better than others, of course, but still, in the end, we were OK.

And that's seriously all I want for Elissa. I mean, bottom line, when I pray to God about her, I just ask that she be OK. Because "OK" implies a lot of things that parents want for their children: health, happiness, a fulfilling life. All of that. However she gets there, whatever God has in store for her, I just want her to be OK.

If Daddy can be on the receiving end of just one graduation gift this year, I think "OK" would be an excellent choice.


  1. My oldest will be starting 7th grade this fall, and I'm 33. I don't feel old, however, the years are definitely flying by. Graduation is looming in the not too distant future.

  2. Definitely a here-before-you-know-it kind of thing, Josh! Those last couple of years of middle school are interesting (mostly in a good way). Enjoy them!

  3. As usual, your sentiments are so well captured in your beautiful prose. I hope Elissa enjoyed tonight and you and Terry and the rest of the family did as well, Scott.

  4. Thank you so much for the kind words, Heather. And yes, it was great! Everyone had a wonderful time.

  5. Hi Scott...I just found your blog via Rick Griffith FB link...I am really enjoying your writing -- in English, no less! I don't do FB friending with students or parents of current students...sort of a way to keep a grip on what could spiral out of control, for me, but I am glad to have found this. Hard to believe so many years have gone by; I clearly remember our first conversation at Open House when Elissa started there -- I was teaching 5th grade then. I, for one, am glad to be experiencing the second generation of Tennants...and reconnecting with you and Terry. See you at next year's Spelling Bee, if not before :)

    -- Gina Pumphrey (and all those other aliases...but by now, 'Gina' is fine...)

    1. Ok...looks pretty bad that I, who teaches keyboarding amongst other subjects, have misspelled my own name in the header there...hmmmm...proving that nobody is perfect, no matter how attentive he/she thinks he/she might, to clear up any confusion, no doubled "p" --grrrrrr :)