Thursday, May 20, 2010

You're just gonna have to take my word on it.

Tonight my daughter - my baby - graduated. From pre-school. She didn't get her bachelors or anything, but that's not the point. The point is, she is quickly ditching her babyhood. She is, as she will tell anyone within earshot "5 year olds". And now she is also a graduate. (Of preschool.) (It's a big fucking deal.)

So tonight was the graduation. I had completely misunderstood what tonight was all about. The school sends home so many damn flyers and notices that it is hard to keep track of all of them, and clearly I missed an important one. Or three. Because I had NO IDEA it was just the preschool graduation tonight. They called it Aloha Night, and I thought it was a school-wide event. I was mistaken. I thought the only real "graduates" would be the kids who were finishing elementary school and moving to middle school. I was totally and completely wrong. I had NO IDEA that it was just the preschool graduates.

So we went bustling down there, dressed up and on time, with a camera even. And I remembered to charge the battery, so I had done SOME preparation (because the number of times I have shown up at events with a dead camera battery are too numerous to mention). But as we walked in the door I realized immediately that I had made a terrible error. Everyone had bags of stuff: flowers, leis, candy, balloons - and I stood there and realized that I was completely and totally empty-handed.

Fuck. fuckfuckfuckfuck.

I panicked. I might have thrown up in my mouth a little bit. My stomach turned and I realized that while I was running around picking up yard sale crap for the derby and yapping on the radio and driving back and forth to school because our carpool was cancelled today, and generating invoices and writing emails and trying to access online accounts for clients...........that I had forgotten to take care of my MOST IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY which would be making sure that my kid had a damn lei - or SOMETHING - after her graduation.

I suck.

But my suckage was far out-weighed by the suckage of others.

First of all, they didn't read the kids names in any particular order, and no one had any idea which songs their kids were singing. So you had no idea when it was going to be your kid's turn. Which meant that there was a crowd of parents standing, trying to get a photograph. At the end of the program they called each child up by name, again in no particular order, and gave them a certificate and bag of candy and lei, and then - for some unknown reason - let them walk off the stage and into the crowd to find their family.

Now, when you let a 3 or 4 or 5 year old walk into a crowd, in a gymnasium, there will be a lot of shouting.


So as we got to the last few students, you could barely hear anything over the chaos. And Lucy was one of the last 3 students. She finally walked across the stage, and got her diploma. She walked down the stairs slowly, uncertain of what she was supposed to do next.

I took a picture as she walked up. "Where's my candy lei?" she asked. Everyone around had a candy lei. Kids were racing up and down the aisles bestowing them on their classmates. Mothers held plastic shopping bags full of them. But one after the other, the kids ran by Lulu. She would see a friend approaching with an armload of leis, and she would step forward, smiling and hopeful. And the kid would run right by her. And each time, she looked as though someone had punched her in the gut. Crushed. Confused.

And I felt the same way. I scooped her up and we ran, together with Sam and Max, out of the gymnasium. We raced home through the dark, talking about where we were going that night to celebrate. What she wanted for her special dinner. How she would have a candy lei tomorrow, for the last day of school. And she was awesome. Totally forgot about the candy lei by the time we got to dinner. Her aunties and uncles spoiled her at the restaurant because they love her, and us, and had heard my whispered version of what had just transpired. They were armed with cucumber rolls and chocolate cake and hugs and congratulations.

And thank god. Because baby, you deserved it. I was so proud of you tonight. More proud then I could have expressed with some stupid plastic lei of crappy half melted candy, or an armload of roses.

But that doesn't mean I shouldn't have had that shit. Tonight you have to take my word on it, you are amazing and I am proud and tomorrow I will have candy leis and flowers waiting for you at school. I messed up tonight. I know I shouldn't have to give you material things to show that I love you, and I am so very proud of you and how well you sang and how you got up in front of that entire gymnasium and spoke into the microphone with a strong clear voice and a smile. But I'm going to get those things anyway. You are a fucking rockstar, and I can't wait to see your face when I hand you that candy lei tomorrow.

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