Something has changed. Well, a lot has changed, but something that you wouldn’t expect to change has. Last week, Cranky had what would have commonly been known as—at least when I was growing up—the last day of sixth grade. We high-fived our friends, talked about summer plans and maybe scored a trip to Swenson’s for ice cream. Last week, however, was something else entirely: Cranky had her sixth grade ‘graduation.’ But even if you had something called a sixth grade graduation, you probably didn’t have this.

    First, there’s the mandatory decorating of the cars. The parents all begin about eight hours early and decorate their cars like they are going to be a float in the Rose Parade. I’m sure you’ve seen these cars out on the road driving around this time of year. Beneath the balloons and the streamers and the painted ‘2010 rocks!’ and ‘Congrats Tim!’ is a woman struggling to see the road through the scribbles. I have this image of two SUVs colliding in an intersection, one covered with bows, along with the message ‘We’ll miss you!’ on the windshield; the other, filled with balloons and ‘Grad aboard!’ painted all over. Next to them, two mothers standing by the mangled cars are thinking, “Yeah, it figures.”

    What you don’t realize is that the car parade is not the main event: rather, it is the opening ceremony. Next come the assemblies, the mementos and finally the graduation. The children all speak—showing a level of maturity and poise that was unexpected—and parents cheer, and we’re just a pool party, a family dinner, a sleepover, a gift and a commemorative video away from being finished. My college graduation had fewer events. Heck, my wedding had fewer.

    A wise woman once said to me you only graduate twice—once from high school and once from college. Cranky is twelve and she’s already graduated from preschool and grammar school. She’s growing up and all these crazy graduations are a constant reminder of that fact. Of course all this righteous indignation could just be to get my mind off of it. That, and the fact that I now have a middle schooler. 

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