Last night, my son graduated from Pre-K.
This is a big deal.
During BC (before children) I laughed at people who made a big fuss out of “graduating” from something other than college or high school. It seemed ridiculous. Now, during AC, I completely understand that this event marks the end of a stage that needs to have recognition. This recognition has nothing to do with the child. That is my theory. It has everything to do with the parent.
Jake had an idea it was a big deal because he had to remember a sentence to say in front of the crowd and he had to wear a cap and robe and he got to have cookies afterward. The whole transition to kindergarden really never hit him. He is just not interested until the morning the bus comes. When I try to engage in stimulating conversation regarding his graduation and his entrance into “big boy” school, and his feelings, I am usually met with a blank stare, or a disinterested shrug.
Typical male hero in the making.
I realized an event that held crying mommies, flashing cameras,videos, and excitement buzzing in the air, was all about the parents. It is a way for us to accept our children are growing up and moving from dependant babies to children who are expected to sit down and listen ALL DAY LONG. This seems impossible, but I am told it can be done. Jake even got a gold star from his teachers confirming he was ok to move onward.
But I still don’t feel ready.
The ceremony was adorable, along with the usual pitfalls befitting parenthood. The kids marched in with full cap, gown and tassle to the ooghging and aghghing of parents and grandparents and siblings. They proceeded to line up neatly in the front and sang some songs. The 2 day class went first, and I noticed Jake refusing to sing (like normal) but not chewing on his shirt like he usually does (a big plus.). While they were giving out certificates to the 2 day class, I noticed something.
Jake was dancing.
Not good dancing. The POTTY dance. He has a typical rhythm once he is ready to explode. I heard parents start laughing as he was being noticed, and then he just gave up, grabbed his crotch, and jumped up and down.
Going into full mommy mode, I crept from the aisle to the center of the stage, motioning for him to come with me. At this moment, my little one (who was behaving quite badly and had taken off his shoes in a tantrum) came flying down the aisle, barefoot, crying and screaming my name right into the center of the stage.
My subtle attempt to get Jake away quietly had failed. Both teachers stopped to stare, the students stared, the parents stared, and I managed to scoop up my little one and grab my older one’s hand while I frantically whispered to the teacher that I needed to take Jake potty. All the while, the cameras rolled. I am sure I will be shown on many home videos this week. Not in a good way.
I dragged both of them out of the auditorium, one screaming, one jumping, and ran to the bathroom. My wonderful husband got the hint and ran out to meet me so he can take Jake back and I could comfort the little one.
Just another quiet family celebration.
The rest went off without a hitch. We had cookies and brownies and lemonade. I chatted with parents I wouldn’t see anymore, thanked the teachers, and mournfully realized a very important experience was now behind me. I will be bringing Joshua in September to the pre-k, but each child’s experience is sacred, and very different. There would never be another Jake or the funny things he did, or the way the teachers dealt with him.
So, as I write these words, I am saying good-bye to something very precious and looking toward the future. I realize I am the same way with my characters in the books I write. I realize I many times I hate starting something new because I love going back to visit who I already know. I rather revamp and revise and revisit than re-create. But life forces us forward, and to have a writing career, you need new stuff.
But we take it all with us. Every experience, every character, is a part of the future, because it has been in our honored past.
This one is for you, Jake.