Whenever I think of graduation, I have a moment of panic as I recall having to play “Pomp and Circumstance” for a half hour straight as 1000 graduates processed through the arena. I still have flashbacks of that moment, the nadir of my high school band experience. Today, however, I’m reminiscing about my daughter’s preschool graduation and awaiting my son’s preschool graduation in a couple of weeks.
I didn’t know that preschoolers graduated until my DD’s school sent home a form requesting money to purchase a graduation cap, gown, and hood. Yes, hood. I was outdone not only that 4- and 5-year-olds would be graduating, but that they would be wearing hoods, and that I had to purchase this pint-sized regalia.
The kids looked so cute, though. The girls wore goldenrod caps and gowns with crimson hoods, and the boys dressed in the reverse. They processed in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” and I was not the only teary-eyed parent there. Albeit I imagine the other parents’ tears didn’t stem from their disdain of the song. Once the children took their places, the program proper began.
The children all rattled off what they wanted to be when they grew up. This exercise began just fine, but slowly I realized that nobody was saying doctor, lawyer, dancer, astronaut, or even superhero or princess. Almost to a child, the boys said they wanted to be “a police,” and the girls said they wanted to “sit at the front desk, like my mama.”
Those are laudable careers, and I’m happy our young people aspire to them, but I couldn’t help wonder why so few children longed to be anything else. I questioned the state of our society that children have so little imagination and so little vision. Are their young lives already so jaded that they can’t even dream big?
Then one of the speakers took the podium. He was a proud father whose son had begun at the school at 2-years-old. The gentleman rattled off how much his son had learned and matured during his time at the school. He concluded his speech by saying he never thought he’d see his son graduate.
Now, I didn’t know this family. Maybe the father didn’t expect to live long, or perhaps some other tragic situation had befallen them. If that is the case, I pray God covers them with His mercy and peace. My impression, however, was that this man did not expect his son to graduate from anything else, ever again.
I looked around at the flowers and balloon bouquets and posters that festooned the auditorium and knew that our speaker was not the only parent who felt the same way.
By the time my children complete their undergraduate education, they conceivably will have graduated five times each. I pray that with each successive occasion I suffer through “Pomp and Circumstance” that my children’s view of education, life, and the world expands and they feel equipped to mark the world with their creativity and vision.
I was one of the 1000 (or really 999, since at least you were playing… maybe 800 of us processed). I was one of the first, as a B, sitting somewhere near Chad Bailey, who’d I’d gone to elementary school with. I definitely fell asleep multiple times, but it was good preparation for later big graduations with lots of people.