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MITCHELL'S MUSINGS: Gradding in 2014
With any luck at all, and I didn’t fall flat on my face on the way to the podium, this is what I said, roughly, on behalf of the parents, to the Class of 2014 at Fulton Secondary on Friday night....
....you know what I can’t get over as I stand before you tonight? Well, other than it’s me up here trying to be wise and wonderful on behalf of the parents – good luck with that. There’s a reason I write for a living, so I don’t have to do stuff like this.
But, also, it’s how fast we got to this point. OMG, as the kids like to say. It seems like only yesterday I was taking my youngest son to Kindergarten initiation day at Harwood Elementary.
And there he was refusing to advance past the entranceway where they hang the coats and actually into the classroom with the other kids. I knew this might happen as Luc and I basically took pre-school together for the most part, but I had no idea what to do next.
But Mrs. Scott did. BHH (bless her heart).She brought out a desk so my son could sit in the coat room and sort of participate while watching the kids from afar, and it worked, sort of. He was still there when I returned an hour later.
But he’s come a long way since then, with the help of other teachers and classmates and maybe a little bit his parents: he eventually aced Kindergarten and moved on to Grade 1 and even transitioned to another school at Okanagan Landing and survived being a beaner at high school and even, if I do say, thrived here at Fulton, and I’m sure every one of you parents would say the same thing about your kids. From all of us (hopefully arms outstretched to encompass all the parents), to all of you (circling the student body with a pointed finger for dramatic effect), a hearty congratulations.
And you know what? He even learned to like school an awful lot. He learned to like it so much, I don’t think he wants to leave.
The other night on the way home from somewhere he proclaimed, “You know what, dad, gradding sucks.”
This concerned me. For two reasons.
One, I don’t think “gradding” is actually a word, although I did know what he meant. I’m pretty sure he meant “graduating.” Why do they have to shorten everything these days? Again, OMG.
And he didn’t mean this thing we’re celebrating tonight sucks. Far from it, we’re rightfully celebrating an important accomplishment and milestone tonight and us parents, your teachers and maybe even your brothers and sisters are rightfully proud of you. So enjoy it.
No, he meant that this is also a transition time in your lives, from the security and certainty of seeing your friends every day and pretty much knowing what your schedule is every day, and the comfort zone that that creates for you.........and trading that, for, well, the great unknown. Yikes, maybe he’s got a point.
But, you know what, it’s kind of like initiation day at Kindergarten, it’s not as scary as it looks.
I’m pretty sure most people over there (gesture towards parents) would trade places with you people over there (gesture towards grads) in a heartbeat.
Although that might be because their memory is faulty and their bodies ain’t exactly what they used to be, it’s also because they know what awaits you on the road to find out.
Tonight is an end but it’s also the beginning of a bold, new chapter where you get to write the book more than you ever did before.
Travel. Get a job. Go to school. Learn stuff. Forget stuff. Fail. Succeed. Repeat if necessary. And enjoy and live your life.
Ignore the doomsday predictions of imminent economic and environmental collapse – they’ve been around at least since the ‘70s when I was gradding and we’re still here – and go make your mark on the world. As long as we try to be kind to each other, and Mother Earth while we’re at it, we should be OK.
It’s understandable to be anxious about what lies ahead, that’s what friends are for so try to keep them as best you can, but even though it seems like everyone else knows what they’re doing and, you, well maybe not so much, I’ll let you in on a little secret – we’re all winging it (gesture all-encompassingly, aw, forget it).
So, I’m going to leave you tonight by quoting another guru from the ‘70s, and I may even try and sing it - “School’s out for summer, school’s out for ever.”
Go get ‘em Class of 2014. We’re proud of you, love you and wish you nothing but the best.