And speaking of graduation….  Well, isn’t everyone?

High schools…colleges…pre-schools& kindergartens…wait…pre-schools & kindergartens?  Yup.  Saw it in the R-C picture congrats.   All very well and good, I suppose, and grandparents like to get in encouragement wherever they can but what’s the kid have to look forward to if they’ve already done graduation at age four?  Little tykes are going to have to work especially hard to maintain a focus on accomplishment “above and beyond” if they never get a bigger picture of challenges to be faced and overcome.

Certainly some kids face plenty of challenges just getting to school from some houses ( Calling them “homes” might be a stretch in some circumstances where abuse–any kind–and neglect are the order of the day, where meth is cooking along with the nutrition-poor meals,  where aspirations go to die or where a shelter is as close as the kids get to “home”).  Single parents have striven mightily to reach this event.  Stressed-out families pull themselves together one more time.  Certainly tragedy has left marks on some diplomas.  So has triumph.

At some ceremonies, each graduate is presented with the class flower or some bloom in the school colors; that’s nice but perhaps a sprig of bittersweet might be equally apropos. That’s the prevailing mood quite often.  Yes, it’s been a long thirteen years, lots of memorable moments, “photo ops”, skeletons to get stuffed into closets, the usual mix…but now they’re going off as, very near, real people. Many have reached the magic number of eighteen–one step beyond sixteen in the maturity sweepstakes–which means that they are now (somewhat to their surprise) responsible for their own debts, able to vote and legally sign all sorts of things (see above, re : debts).  Poignant–painfully affecting the feelings, deeply affecting, touching–about sums it up.

Some will go off to still greater achievement–as expected.  Some will settle into the work-a-day world and just be like the rest of us–nice people.  Some will make bad decisions and take years to get out of the holes that they’ve dug for themselves.  Some are destined for the local “Hall of Fame”, others won’t be mentioned, except in whispers, at family reunions.  Some will build whole new families and communities that they’d been dreaming of as they walked across that stage (And about that walk across the stage…the shoes!).  Others will sink into a perpetual adolescence of sorts, this being the high point of their entire lives.  They all reflect and magnify what we’re about.

And pride is simply radiating from both sides–all sides–of the stage…proud kids, proud parents and families, proud faculty, staff and administration.  The occasional tear is shed.  Camera flashes are ubiquitous, applause, ditto (I’ve decided that the various hoots-n-hollers from the peanut gallery are less about acknowledging/encouraging/congratulating the graduates than about siphoning off some of the recognition to the benefit of the hooter/hollerer.  “Way to go, Sweetie-Pie!” isn’t what your usual graduate desires to hear when walking across a stage in front of a mass of people. Whoever’s yelling is looking for recognition for themselves.  Ah, well.  To each his/her own.  Embarrass your kid if you want).

Then it’s on to the open houses…some pretty interesting galas out there.  Dogs and burgers, aluminum foil vats, chicken on the grill, vast displays of beverages–adult and otherwise, somebody’s latest recipe for whatever, pastas without number in various guises–mac-n-cheese, pasta salad, rigatoni with red sauce, etc., etc., etc. Masses of vegetables  gave their all for the relish trays.  Folks will be eating healthy left-overs for weeks.

At least there were no events like the college graduation party in Boxford, MA, where a mini-herd of six black-and-white Belted Galloway cattle wandered into a backyard and started knocking over cans of beer so that they could slurp up the brew.  When told by his daughter, “Dad, there are cows in the backyard,” the host-father said, “O.K., this party’s over.”  The bovines moved on to another yard, whose owner called the police, saying, “There are cows in my yard.  I don’t own cows.”  Eventually, order was restored and the party went on after the cows went home.

Nor was there a bear in any swimming pool that I noticed.  Some people out in California–didn’t you just know it would be there–in a Los Angeles suburb (probably a pretty ritzy one, judging by the view in the video) looked out to see a bear (Well, it is on the state flag) climbing into their pool for a swim.  Several other such natatorial episodes by wildlife have been recorded…and made part of popular culture…on YouTube.  The festivities which I was privy to were mild by comparison.

Keep all of this graduation information in mind when you ponder the latest research which indicates that American heads are getting larger–no names, please!  The skulls are becoming taller and narrower with a volume increase about equal to the size of a tennis ball–more brains!  Who knew?