Three years ago I wrote about my oldest nephew’s graduation ceremony from kindergarten, where I said basically that I thought graduations from things like preschool and kindergarten were silly. A lot of people agreed with me, but a few said things like, “Just wait until it’s your kid, you won’t think so.” Well, it was my kid’s turn last week.
A few weeks into May, a note went home with the kids telling parents there would be an end of the year picnic that “celebrated the end of preschool.” I was suspicious, but said nothing because I knew my kid would be jazzed. For the next few weeks she came home from school raving about the songs they were learning, and she always emphasized how excited she was about the picnic. That kid looooves eating on the ground with bugs.
I told myself I wasn’t going to get worked up about it for a few reasons. First, I didn’t know what the celebration was going to entail, other than singing and eating on the ground. Second, I have the energy to get worked up over one, maybe two things per month. It usually involves the grocery store being out of my favorite club soda. And third, if it was important to Annabel, I wasn’t going to squash it. I’m all about not pushing my beliefs on my kids. For example, Annie believes picnics are fun. I believe restaurants were invented for a reason. And yet, I own several picnic blankets.
When we showed up at the school the morning of the picnic extravaganza, Annie ran off to join her class and I looked at the set up. There was a row of tiny chairs facing several rows of adult-size chairs. And lots of decorations like this:
I gave those decorations serious internal side eye. I started to worry that the kids were going to be wearing tiny caps and gowns, like my nephew three years ago. That would have pushed me over the proverbial edge and here’s why: only two of the kids were actually “graduating.” The rest of them will all be back next year for pre-k.
I should have known that I didn’t need to be worried. Annie’s teachers are very laid-back and just not the types to put on a big graduation production. Instead, the kids walked out of their classroom (without caps and gowns!) and sang two songs about loving preschool.
I’d had a few talks with Annabel about not being an attention hog during these kinds of things. Her dance performance during the Mother’s Day Tea was well-intentioned but a little much. I reminded her the day was for everyone, and if she wanted to be the star of the show she could pitch an idea to NBC. During the songs, she did exactly what she was supposed to and I was proud of her, because I understand her struggle.
After the songs, each kids’ name was called, and they were handed a certificate of completion.
After that, it was picnic time. Annie and her friends chased each other around and ate on the ground while we kept James occupied.
I took pictures of Annie with her friends and teachers, and she had a blast.
My opinion on these sorts of things hasn’t really changed. I think end of the year parties are fine for school and sports, but I don’t think everything needs a literal reward/award/trinket. I don’t want my kids to be more excited about the reward than the activity. I know it’s hard to motivate little kids without a bribe dangle (I love bribes, trust me), but where is the tipping point? Most importantly, how many more meals with bugs will I have to endure??