Can we just let these kids graduate? Can we let them feel the pride of completing twelve years of school? Can we post pictures as proud parents outside of their school – cap & gown, diploma in hand – and receive accolades for surviving?
I know there is a lot going on right now. I’m not deaf or blind to the racial relations issues that are, rightfully, at the heart of every story, post and conversation. I’ve been having conversations, myself – whether with my children, my family or with friends. And I have learned so much in the last two weeks by nervously reaching out to friends and saying ‘tell me your story,’ – so don’t think my request is because I’m continuing to keep my head in the sand.
But we need this. My kid needs this.
In the last 48 hours we’ve gone from wondering if school was going to open in the fall to wondering if the school is an injustice hot bed. Most of us haven’t even had time to do our homework on this topic that is shockingly new to us. No, the school hasn’t sent out anything – and because I do try to lean toward the side of lack-of-malicious-intent, I’m assuming it is because the staff is focused on getting these seniors the five minutes they deserve. Yes, they deserve more, but that is what we’ve been allotted. I would love some talking points from the counselors, yes, but I would have loved that a week ago.
Can we just have this?
My kid has had a shitty end to her senior year. And she deserved a good end. And so did we. Her high school career was not full of highlights and awards and trophies – it was full of struggles and growing pains and tears. She doesn’t play sports or have dozens of friends or bury herself in clubs. But she has pushed through a lot of personal anguish (some attributed to being a dramatic teen – but some of it very real) and she has pulled herself up over and over (yes, she dug the holes first) and she is finally at the finish line. And this is what she has – this week – to celebrate surviving it. The shitty end was not her fault. But we did think virtual learning, cancelling the prom, cancelling senior day, cancelling AP tests, cancelling graduation, cancelling, cancelling, cancelling – we thought that was the worst of it and that we were finally reaching the light.
Yet just today – when her school posted an excited “Virtual Graduation!!! Coming in 4 Days!!” my child didn’t see loads of responses saying, “Congrats Seniors!” or “Can’t Wait!” or “Way to GO!” or “Here’s the Class of 2020!” My child saw comment after comment about how her school was racist and the district was racist and the principal was trying to shut her staff down and how we should burn the school next door with the bad name. And, as a teen, she immediately started wondering if she should skip graduation and is her school racist and did she do something wrong or treat someone badly and should she hate her principal and why is she, again, feeling unhappy at a time when she should feel only joy.
So, please, can we just hold off for a few more days. Can we just let these kids cross the stage and let the masks they’re required to wear be the worst of it?
None of the uproar is her fault. We certainly have zero power to fix it in the hours we have left before our pseudo-graduation-appointment. I promise we will try though, after. I have no idea if her principal should resign or not. I’m still counting plates and napkins and glasses and collecting celebratory decorations. I know that it would be odd for my child to collect her diploma from strangers – yet another ‘what’s the point?’ hit to last 84 days of ‘what’s the point?’ I don’t think she should have to take another hit. I think she should just to get to experience one, simple, completely abnormal five minutes of joyous stage time.