A good friend of mine texted me from her son’s 6th grade “graduation ceremony” a few weeks ago. Yeah, you read that right. They now do a ceremony for when kids go from 6th grade to big bad middle school. It’s called “Move Up” or “Promotion” or something like that. Should be called “Wake Up” or “Slowmotion” if you ask me cause the real difference between 6th and 7th grade is the time the bus comes and your child’s eagerness to honor the alarm.
That said, she was looking for a little sympathy and I was happy to oblige. I mean, a 6th grade graduation? Really? Were we ever concerned that he wouldn’t make it through grammar school? In this generation of trophies for trying and parental over-involvement, no cause for celebration is too minor, too obvious, too innocuous as to warrant flowers, photos and family accolades.
She knew it was over the top and she knew I would know it was over the top. This is the kind of school event where I typically feigned an important work call to make my early exit. (Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have an attention span; I brought a book to my daughter’s high school graduation.)
This week I experienced the real “Move Up,” or perhaps more aptly, “Move Out.” The day your child graduates from the institution that mattered the most the whole time: the home.
Yes, she went to college and yes, she came home for fall, winter, spring, and summer breaks. But even when she was away, you knew you couldn’t touch the room. You knew she’d be plopping herself down and re-establishing herself in the family dynamics soon enough.
But this week, my first born – the one who changed my life forever – got on a plane and headed to the state of Wisconsin to begin her career and forge her own way.
The last few weeks have been spent with me cooking healthy meals (I want her to eat better), making her do timed planks with me (I want her to work on her core), and going shopping (I want her to be well dressed at work). She was kind enough to oblige on all fronts.
But as the flight drew closer and time grew shorter, we both knew it was time to go and that things would not be quite the same from here. Most people think my daughter is named after a sassy little French girl who lived in a boarding school. But she wasn’t. Madeline is a Hebrew name meaning “tower of strength.”
So when she called the first night and was feeling a little like a fish out of water, I offered some advice about getting through the next few days. Make plans. Fill your calendar. Read a book. (I reminded her how as a baby she stayed in her playpen for hours, hoping to encourage her abilities to entertain herself.)
The next night when I called she filled me in on her day’s events – she went to the gym (did you plank?). She had walked around the town and met a cat. Then she rushed me off the phone — she had a friend to Skype with.
I hung up and made my way to the local beach bar to meet some friends for happy hour. And as I was driving it occurred to me that this was the biggest graduation event of all of them. Yet there was no ceremony. No caps, no gowns. No flowers or family gatherings. And I didn’t text anyone with the equivalent of an eye roll.
Most likely, it’s me that will need her help and guidance as the next few weeks unfold. She will live up to her name and I will do my best to keep pace.