Nursery school graduations were adorable. They would wear those caps and gowns and they would look like teeny tiny graduates. Adorable. Kindergarten graduation — also adorable. We got a few cute songs at that one. And then eighth-grade graduation. Still adorable, but bordering on, gasp, slightly boring (hey, I am just saying what you all think….) And then high school graduation. That one is pretty emotional — especially for all of us crazy parents who decide to send their most precious possessions off to Israel for a year or two or three. What are we thinking? This is the graduation where solid friendships have been formed, when those friends become like your sons (or daughters, if you have daughters). When your kids have dreams for the future…. I find this to be a pretty intense graduation. Even my own high school graduation felt that way. The anxious pit in your stomach about what comes next.
And then there is the college graduation. These are my thoughts on the four hours of my life that I am never getting back. I am sitting in the Prudential Center at the Yeshiva University graduation. You would think I would know what number graduation it was because they announced it so many times, but I was too busy looking at my son eating the bag of cereal that he hid under his gown. He was also sharing it with his friends, which showed me that he really did learn how to share in nursery school, and those values have stuck with him all of these years.
But the cereal was pretty much the highlight.
I then began to think about my Yeshiva University graduation. I was 21 years old and on the cusp of adulthood. My whole life in front of me. Graduate school, jobs, will I get married? Will I have kids? Will I be living in my parents’ house for the rest of my life? Who knew? The future was mine to explore. How exciting! What a great, uncertain time of life. And now I am looking at my son, who is graduating, and I start to think about how my life is probably more than half over. Gee, I hope I appreciated my graduation! (I certainly appreciated the yummy dinner at Tevere 84.)
What a depressing thought!
And it didn’t help that I had four full hours to keep thinking about this fact. But at least the people sitting behind me had nice jewelry to look at. Jewelry always fits, and it makes boring graduations just a little prettier. One of the reasons why this graduation was so long was because every graduate’s name is called and they each get their fake diploma. (Real diploma to arrive in the mail. I hope. That might be for another column.) So about 500 graduates — you figure it out. Fortunately, the names were all Cohen, Schwartz, Weinstein, Ganchrow … nice easy Jewish names. I can only imagine how they would have butchered Banji if I had gotten called up for a diploma in my day. We didn’t get called up. I think the president or dean waved a magic wand over the crowd and said “bibbity bobbity boo” and then all our parents’ tuition money swirled over our heads and was sucked into a giant pot and then we were declared graduates. Easy peasy.
And then our diplomas came in the mail … eventually.
I know that I am supposed to appreciate the beauty of the ceremony and get excited about the milestone, but aside from the few moments of “eureka, my kid is graduating college,” I really just felt old. Especially because it took 20 minutes to get up from the seat I was in, and that just wasn’t pretty at all. But four hours later, that cute little monkey who slept through the night at six weeks, who now can almost grow a full beard, could tell the world and future employers that yes, he has a college degree. And husband #1 and I helped him achieve that accomplishment.
But to be honest, I still think that toilet training at two years, seven months and three weeks still is a bigger accomplishment.
Congratulations to all….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is still friends with many of the amazing women she met at Stern College for Women and Others. Hard to believe, but true…