A few weeks ago, I sat with many other teary-eyed parents as my son graduated from kindergarten. My daughter graduated from fifth grade. Two on one day – double whammy.
Many people criticize having graduation ceremonies beyond high school and college as excessive, but the truth is, those few minutes in the spotlight mean something to the kids (and us proud parents!). The kindergartners have finished their first year of “real” school, and they’re pretty proud of themselves, as they should be. They’ve now proven themselves prepared to survive the rest of the school years. And the fifth graders, well, they’re moving on to middle school – it’s a whole new ball game for them! This seems to be the official transition from “little kid” to “young adult” for many.
After watching her brother’s ceremony, my daughter decided she wants to be a school principal – just so she can watch every kindergarten graduation. It was just a quick presentation, with the kids singing a few songs and sharing a poem, but you could tell they practiced and were happy to show off their accomplishment.
The fifth grade ceremony was a little more serious, though still simple and playful. The school headmistress talked a bit at the end. She gave a lighthearted speech to the parents on how to survive middle school. She made several points, some humorous, some poignant, but the key message was this: Spend time with your kids.
I couldn’t agree more. This is what the kids remember. After all, it is the collection of our experiences that make us who we are.
My daughter gave a speech at her graduation, recounting her favorite fifth grade memory. She told a story of the class winter celebration and how she remembered so much laughter. Another student in her class told a similar story.
There were no speeches from the kindergarten kids, but my son tells me his favorite part of kindergarten was making, and spending time with, new friends. He comes home every day full of stories about what he and his buddies played at recess or what they learned working together in science class.
It’s not some tangible, expensive gift that the kids recall the most fondly. It’s those shared memories of time spent with friends or family. It’s also that time spent together that allows us to shape who our children become. With any luck, as they grow up and graduate to whatever come next, they won’t move on too quickly or too far.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.