1- I am sure I walked across a similar stage once. 1981, Stow, Ohio. I have the (my name misspelled) diploma. How come I remember cold nothing of it, except the changing of the tassels at the end and that we threw the hats in the air in strict defiance of rules?
2- Why did none of the kids today throw hats in the air?
3- While I understand the point of making the kids feel like something important just happened – and it did, since those who were socially promoted are now not required to be babysat by the state, and those who were in actual challenging programs achieved something – MUST we have speeches on the theme of “the first day of your life” and “Some final remarks”? Dude, if you didn’t teach the kids what they need to know for life in 12 years, let it go. They’re not going to listen to you now.
4- Since when did my kid’s class include a large number of vampire immigrants from Terry Practchett’s Uberwald? While none of the kids – to my chagrin – appeared to be named Margolotta Amaya Katerina Assumpta Crassina Von Uberwald or even Maledicta, there were students with FIVE given names. What gives?
5- Thank G-d the sheer silliness of made-up names seems to be receding. There were only half a dozen of them on the roll. Look guys, if the way your kid will distinguish him/herself is because you gave him/her a dissonant collection of syllables never used for a name in any language, congratulations. I believe it’s called the tyranny of low expectations. Odd names with a base in history, mythology or something else is completely different of course. (Says the woman who ALMOST got named Naiad Euridice except for her dad being a stick in the mud.)
6 – WHY are all the hats one size fits none, so that the girls look like they’re trying to hide in their hat, and the boys look like Goofy in Disney comics? Is this to prepare them for the humiliations and inadequacies of adulthood?
7 – Is it wise to tell the kids to follow their passion? Yes, yes, this is the fairly useless novelist asking, but for the love of heaven, can’t you see Rome is burning? Or perhaps that the job market is? Telling them it’s terrible to get up every morning to go to a job they hate is not a good idea. I’ve done that off and on for months/years when the alternative was starving or the dole. How about something about the dignity of working and feeding yourself, no matter how humble the occupation? I mean their passion is fine, if they have a passion for engineering (thank you, G-d, thank you!) But what if their passion is for drawing in chalk on sidewalks, or studying the poetry of tooth paste advertising? Following your heart into a ditch is… not the best advice.
8 – Supposing they listen to ANYTHING you say, how about telling them that life and great stuff is what happens while you’re busy with something else. So, be busy, be good to those who depend on you, support yourself, don’t be a mooch, keep your head clear and keep working. If you see a chance to strike for your passion, do so. If you have a passion for an artistic endeavor, keep working at it. BUT do so on the side. Above all be independent, honest and responsible. If you can also be a great artist, that’s gravy.
9 – The difference between having a boy and having a girl graduate – parents of girls were all holding bouquets of flowers. Parents of boys wondered “If I gave him flowers, how puzzled would he look?” then giggled uncontrollably. COOL parents of boys had cheeseburgers at the ready.
10 – AND way to make me feel old, kids, as I pick my son up and we walk away from his group, I realize they’re shouting … Hashtags at each other. As in “Hey, Bob, Hashtag flat-cat.” Kids these days, what will they come up with next? On the good side the only afros were natural, and none of them were sporting bell bottoms, so the major errors of my own year have been corrected. The future looks bright.
Update — Hey! Get off my lawn 😉