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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My son the Graduate.

This weekend my oldest son graduated from High School, it was a very proud moment.  Considering the size of the graduating class (about 200) it was a lot of proud moments, not necessarily shared proud moments, we had to take turns.  But, for one moment my joy was unrivaled, then the baton was passed, and I was left sitting in a very uncomfortable seat behind between rows of abusive, potentially violent families of other graduates.  Which made for some very entertaining memories.

All of the literature stated that saving seats was not allowed, it was a matter of space, and not just teachers taking one last shot at the abuse of power before summer break left them victimless, longing for a next years buffet of students, waiting to be slammed into shape by the rigors of state sponsored education.  There were only so many seats and there were so many people who wanted their proud moment.  We got there early and before we even showed up and took our seats, (very nice seats, right on the aisle, by the way) some people had the audacity to save some seats right in front of the seats we would eventually choose.  Shortly after we sat an older man arrived, (he was an immigrant*, somewhere Mediterranean, judging by the accent, and skin tone) who was so incensed of the clear violation of seating protocol that he removed the interloper's jackets, applied so carefully to indicate the seats were being saved and promptly sat programs and other official looking bits of paper on the seats to save them for his family, not yet arrived.  Needless to say things got a bit tense when the owners of the jackets returned to find their clothing saving a completely different set of seats.  But, things worked out, and nobody was injured, at least not physically, there may be some emotional scarring, it is too early to tell.

We had some extra time, it was wonderful seeing all of the kids graduate, but after the first hundred or so, your mind begins to wander.  And you start to notice things, like the smartly dressed woman in the last row of seats on the floor, with the price tag on the bottom or her shoe.  There are a lot of things in the world that are uncertain, but you just know this woman has new shoes, and that makes a person feel a bit better.  Thank you, sharply dressed woman for giving life meaning, again.

Between the seats for the graduating students and the rest of us there was a row of aluminum stanchions connected by a thin, white plastic chain.  At the point of support the chain was probably no more than 2 and 1/2 feet off the ground, in the middle at the bottom of the drop it was less than two feet, and in some places barely above a foot, so it could have been stepped over quite easily.  And it was only a thin, plastic chain, so it could have been broken with a few well placed insults.  Amazingly enough, though, no one tried to breach the sanctity of the enclosure.  Instead, the parents, knowing there were teachers, waiting, watching, brooding on the other side, ready to leap at the slightest provocation**, would line up two or three rows deep behind the plastic chain, paparazzi like, waiting to snap a photo of the proud alumni.  Some students cooperated more than others, posing and smiling, holding up traffic, while others just kind of looked embarrassed and sheepish, and scurried quickly to their seats.  Safe behind their little plastic barrier.

The photographers seemed to come in two basic varieties.  Those with very expensive cameras, and lenses that looked as if they should be able to locate life on Mars, and those with expensive phones.  And without fail, while waiting for the perfect shot, each "phoneographer" would get an important text message, or email, and have to start typing furiously, while their recent grad either posed for naught or walked quickly past and sat down, unphotographed, and happy.  Which was fine, because by this point the email/text message had turned into a harried conference call, and from the serious look on the face of the parent/photographer it must have involved the president, the secretary of state, and prime ministers and representatives from all over the world, in a discussion so intense it makes me nervous just thinking about it, thank goodness, they barely managed to avoid war.

One woman was foolish enough to attempt to stand and take pictures, blocking the view of many people waiting anxiously for their moment of pride. A Sheriff's Deputies, armed, menacing, unsmiling, came over, one palm on the butt of his pistol, (a very large, intimidating pistol, emanating malice, and fear) the other on the handle of his night stick, and told her to have a seat, or she would be sitting in the back of a patrol car, in hand cuffs, and a lot of pain, for her date with the judge.  OK, I made up the the Deputy's monologue, though, it was probably much more interesting than what he said.  Besides, who's tellin' this story?

But, if you see my son, congratulate him, and if you see the woman with the new shoes, tell her how nice she looks, and if you see the sheriff's deputy don't mess around, he is in no mood.

* The immigrant reference was included only because, having worked with immigrants from all over the world I can tell you with certainty that they understand the proper way to demand and protect their rights better than almost anyone born here.  Of course, they also understand the constitution, the bill of rights, the judiciary, the congressional terms of office and the responsibilities of each house, the electoral college and its implications and the division of power between the 3 branches of government better than almost anyone born here, as well.  Show offs, anyway.

** To any teachers who happen to stumble on this, please remember, it is only a little joke.  I have nothing but the greatest respect for teachers.  You are servants of Humanity, doing the thankless job of disciplining our children, oh my goodness, did I say disciplining, I meant teaching, just a little typo.