I've gotten so behind on my blogging lately. I have a list of 8 exciting events I'd like to share on the blog, so I decided to just make it a series.
I've always thought preschool graduation was a little bit silly. First of all, it's not as though it requires a great deal of work to finish preschool, so it doesn't really seem necessary to acknowledge a preschooler's accomplishments with a graduation. Second, the term graduation implies that one's education is completed, whereas I think most of us would say that one's education begins at kindergarten, as in, after preschool.
On the other hand, when we think of graduation's other name, commencement, there is an implication of new beginnings. And I knew that Nathan in particular needed a very serious, formal acknowledgement of the new beginnings he is going to face in the fall.
See, preschool wasn't an altogether awesome experience for our family. The entire two years was a series of limit-testing and correcting, of daily struggles with I don't want to go to school, and of the negative environment created by fellow parents bitter about staff changes.
We needed a ceremony to acknowledge that we had all made it through, and that it was time to focus on the transition to the beginning of formal education in the fall.
And so the day before Memorial Day weekend, we dressed Nathan in his $20 J.C. Penney suit and watched him process with his classmates wearing paper mortarboards as Pomp & Circumstance played in the background.
The first part of the ceremony consisted of the kids singing a few of the songs they'd learned at school. There was a song about bubble gum, a song about dinosaurs, the Days of the Week song, and the planet song. Then they sang "Kindergarten Here We Come!" which was set to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." It was a silly little diddy, but one line still got me all emotional:
[Sung to the part of the song starting with eyes and ears and mouth and nose]:
"Bye, bye preschool, it's been lots of fun!
Kindergarten here we come!"Next the kids got their "diplomas." The teacher said something nice about each kid, and told us what the kid wanted to be when he/she grows up. Here's Nathan's:
I love how she says he has some "great one-liners." I seriously could not be prouder. That's my boy!
As the grand finale of the ceremony, the kids sang "What a Wonderful World." Now, at that point I was already sobbing my brains out. Muh bay-bee! Already going to kindergarten! And, as though that reminder of the passage of time wasn't painful enough, "What a Wonderful World" was the song Bill and I first danced to at our wedding. I mean, come on. During the entire song I had a slideshow of our greatest moments playing in my head: The wedding dance, bringing Nathan home from the hospital, the first day of preschool, and so on. Clearly the gravity of the situation wasn't lost on Nathan, as evidenced by his ridiculous wiggling, which was obviously a manifestation of his tension, and not of the fact that he is a goofy five-year-old:
After the ceremony we took a million pictures of course. Here he is with me:
Dancing, I guess?
And with Bill:
There was a cake:
Back at home, I had Nathan pose with his two Poohs, who of course had graduation hats as well:
Oh, and of course this happened:
In the end, I guess I came to understand the purpose of preschool graduation. The concept of preschool graduation had previously seemed pointless to me because this concept was based on my own personal experiences with graduation. I saw my graduations as largely a time to celebrate hard work and accomplishments, and to get decorated with medals and ropes to acknowledge those accomplishments. They were the culminations of school experiences which, in all honestly, were a nonstop stream of showing off my accomplishments, so much so that until Nathan started preschool, I kind of thought that the secondary purpose of education (after learning) was to demonstrate how awesome you are.
But when Nathan started preschool, I learned that sometimes the purpose of school (again, besides learning), is to identify weaknesses and correct accordingly. And so preschool was a series of identifying and correcting, and graduation was a celebration of improvement. It also served as a formal marker of transition and new beginnings. We all need a new beginning once in awhile.
And so, we commence.