Sunday, May 25, 2008

Graduation - Part 1 - (MotherRant Alert!)

Since I am in enough trouble at home right now, I am going to get this off my chest here where I am less likely to make things worse. My Dear Daughter graduated from high school this afternoon. I am in trouble because I wore an ugly dress that did not pass inspection. I am in trouble because I am too opinionated and don't "get it." I am in trouble because I rushed everybody out this morning to get ahead of the traffic. I was in trouble in advance because I am a cry-baby and DD did not want me to cry. (More on my experience later, although I will say that I did manage to listen to Pomp & Circumstance without sobbing. It took a lot of teeth gritting and intense concentration on trying to hold the video camera still, but I did it.... I hope I get credit for that.)

Anyway, Graduations, like many milestone events, are emotional and nerve-wracking. I have said before that each person in my family processes stress in different (and highly incompatible) ways. I have learned that it is best if we avoid each other when we are under a lot of pressure. Oh, I am in trouble for that as well. DD likes to argue when she's stressing. Last night I refused to be goaded into an argument and persisted in reading a book. I am in big trouble for that.

So, in the interest of staying out of further trouble, I am going to get this crap off my chest to people who won't yell at me for being a bitch.

First of all, I know that things are less formal than they used to be, but a Graduation Ceremony is a serious occasion. It is a milestone in the lives of our children. Like weddings, funerals, baptisms and, I dunno, other important events.... Out of respect for the kids being honored by the event, their family and friends should dress appropriately. I was (and still am a little) mad at DD for criticizing my floral print dress with pearls. She said it looked like an "old lady" outfit. Maybe she was right about that, but I stand by my choice. It was matronly, but, hell, I'm a mom of a graduate and I'm over 50. I'm entitled to dress matronly if I want to, dammit. What is more, I believe that my selection of attire was appropriate for the occasion.

I started to fuss at my Dear Husband because he did not wear a suit. He wore dress pants and a dress shirt. In the interest of staying out of further trouble, I did not make an issue of his lack of a tie, but it took some major tongue biting to keep my mouth shut. Boy, am I am glad I did!

To say I was appalled at the appearance of the graduation guests is an understatement. I can't even guess how many people were wearing jeans and flip flops. I saw one lady in Capri's and a halter top. There were lots of khaki pants, Hawaiian shirts and canvas shoes (this is FLORIDA, people, not Hawaii!); is that get-up supposed to be "dressier" than jeans and flip flops? A lady in the next section was wearing jeans and a crop top -- and she was barefooted! (I assume she had shoes somewhere.) The graduates were required to adhere to a very stringent dress code, and most of them seemed to have cooperated. Perhaps the school should have sent home a dress code for the guests as well.

As appalling as their appearance was, their deportment was worse. It never ceases to amaze me that people cannot sit still and listen respectfully to speakers. I could not believe how many people continued to walk around during the speeches. A lady in the next section from us stood up in the stairway taking pictures for the entire first part of the program, blocking the view of a whole swath of us in our section. The couple directly behind me talked through the entire ceremony -- at least until the time when they got up and walked out (early) as soon as their child walked across the stage to receive his diploma. By the time they had finished handing out the diplomas (before the flipping of the tassels, the throwing of the caps and the recessional), the hall was half empty.

It has been a long time since I have been to a graduation ceremony (which is why I wore a floral print dress and pearls: that's what graduates' mothers used to wear -- and their fathers wore suits with TIES). [Sorry.] Every year in recent memory graduation month brings at least one scathing letter to the editor in the newspaper complaining about people screaming, yelling and using air horns during graduation ceremonies. I never totally believed that stuff. I always thought the writers were cranks. Well, now, call me a crank but the behavior I witnessed today was inexcusable in polite company. It is no wonder young people can so often be so ill-behaved if the example (ahem!) set their parents and families today is any indication. People yelled, screamed, stomped their feet and blew air horns while the diplomas were being handed out. I am still apoplectic thinking about it. How disrespectful and just plain ignorant! The graduates worked hard to achieve an important milestone in their lives and too many of their parents and families acted like a bunch of hicks who don't know how to behave in public.

It was a disgrace.

The saddest thing of all, my daughter's high school is one of the top 100 schools in the nation.

God help us......

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