His school even had a graduation ceremony for all the students who were entering kindergarten next year. I find the notion of a preschool graduation to be a bit silly. It’s not like he spent four years mastering computer science or philosophy. He learned to color, write his name, and play nicely with others. What’s the big deal?
I quickly discovered that it is a big deal – to mothers. My wife, K, was ecstatic that her little boy was graduating from preschool. I managed to tamp down her enthusiasm before she could order fancy invitations or plan a huge graduation soiree. Her excitement waned further when she realized that she had a commitment that conflicted with the ceremony.
I knew that it was up to me to carry the banner in my wife’s absence. Although she was upset that she wouldn’t be there, she intended to make the most of my attendance.
“N’s teacher sent some very detailed instructions,” she said as she handed me a card. “Read that and make sure you follow them to the letter.”
I read the card and wondered if K was playing a trick on me. The card read:
Drop off your student at his/her classroom by 6:40 p.m. We will show a slideshow in the auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
“Is that it?” I asked. “The instructions seem pretty simple to me.” She gave me a glare that she usually reserves for the children when they are misbehaving.
“And by that, I meant ‘Yes, dear,” I responded. I’m no fool.
On the night of the graduation, I rushed home to get N fed and dressed. Searching for his graduation outfit, I discovered a suit that I bought him last Christmas.
“Put this on,” I said and went to my bedroom to change clothes. When N came into the room, he was beaming with joy. He always wants to wear a suit so he can look like Daddy. Unfortunately, the suit was too big and engulfed his tiny frame.
“That’s not going to work,” I told him. His smile turned sour. “Don’t look so sad. Daddy will find you a something to wear that will make you the best looking boy at the graduation.”
We finally settled on his Easter outfit – a trouser and vest combination purchased by his grandparents. I grabbed a tie to complete his look.
“I don’t want to wear a tie,” he complained.
“Why not?” I asked.
“I just don’t want to.”
“What’s the reason?”
He looked down at his feet and then replied. “Because all of the other boys will laugh at me.”
“But Daddy’s wearing a tie and no one is laughing at him,” I said. “Don’t you want to be cool like Daddy?”
He thought about it for a minute and then smiled. “Okay, I’ll wear a tie, but I want the red one because the striped one looks funny.”
“Okay. Wear the read one,” I said. “Now put on your shoes so we can go.”
“Do I get to wear my tap dance shoes?” he asked.
“What tap dance shoes?”
“You know,” he said. “The black shoes you bought me.”
“Those aren’t tap dance shoes,” I corrected. “Those are dress shoes, but feel free to tap dance in them if you’d like.”
After we were dressed, I drove us to the school and delivered N to his classroom at precisely 6:25 p.m. (that’s for K’s benefit). On each student’s desk sat a graduation cap made out of construction paper. N raced inside to try on his cap.
With N in his teacher’s custody, I went to the auditorium to watch the slide show. I was disappointed to see only four photos of N during the 30 minute presentation. K pre-ordered the DVD. I knew she would be disappointed too.
At 7 p.m., the kids marched into the auditorium and were ushered to their seats. The school’s director said a few words and then started calling each class to the stage. Although there were about 12 classes, the process moved quickly.
As the children traipsed across the stage, I noticed some of the mothers were weeping (see earlier point about being a big deal for moms). Several of the dads were down front jockeying for camera and camcorder positions. When N’s class was called to the stage, I jumped into the fray.
N walked across the stage with an air of confidence. Since I was his only family member in attendance, I couldn’t match the whoops and hollers that some of the other kids received. I doubt that my modest applause was noticed by anyone. Regardless, I was proud of my son’s accomplishment. I’m glad that I was there to support him.
The ceremony concluded with the children singing their school song followed immediately by a reception. N and I grabbed some cookies and punch and headed home.
N couldn’t wait to show his mother his diploma which read:
This certifies that N has completed the preschool course of study at Wee Wuns Weekday Ministries and is therefore entitled to this Preschool Diploma. Given on this date: May 27, 2009.
K studied the diploma carefully and begged for a summary of the ceremony.
“The director called N’s class to the stage,” I said. “Then each student walked across to receive his or her diploma.”
“No, no,” she demanded. “I need details.”
“I gave you all the details,” I said. “That’s all that happened. It’s a preschool graduation not a college commencement.” I got the look again.
Luckily, N saved me from imminent death. He placed his cap on his head, grabbed his diploma and proudly stated. “Now I’m ready for college.” K and I laughed.
“Let’s just prepare for kindergarten right now,” I said.
It won’t be too long before he will be going off to college, getting married, moving away, and having a family of his own. But for now, he is my preschool graduate and I will savor this moment in time.