Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celebrating Graduation

Not having attended too many graduation parties, I am not the most conversant with its norms. Recently I was at one that made me wonder about why parents do what they do and how it must feel from the young person's perspective in whose honor this is being done. In this instance, the family had rented out a small auditorium with dinner arrangements outdoors.

The young person in question was to showcase her talent with a short dance recital. At the foyer the parents had put on a slide show with the big events of their daughter's eighteen year old life. Invitees were handed out flyers cataloging her accomplishments since her kindergarten. In essence, this was a celebration of all that she was at the brink of adulthood.

In concept, that is a nice thing but I find the execution somewhat cringe-worthy. As a parent, I have every right to be proud of my child - celebrate all her accomplishments big or small - it is my prerogative. However, when I take the show on the road and enlist a captive audience of hundred odd to be party to this adulation fest, I guess I might be overdoing things just a tad.

If a young person has distinguished themselves significantly in this day and age, chances are that a Google search on their name will produce an exhaustive catalog of what makes them special. There should be no need for the parents to hand out resumes to everyone. I had to wonder if the graduation ceremony is a way to acknowledge and validate the work parents put in to raise a child or if it about placing their trophy on the shelf for all to see and admire.

The former in my mind is a fundamental responsibility each parent acquires as soon as they become one - there is no credit deserved or earned for doing their job even if it is done exceptionally well. The later probably does not work in the best interests of the child because they correlate the love and adoration of their parents to what kind of trophy they are able to become for their parents.

When we were heading home, J asked me if she would have a similar graduation party when it is her time. It will take me a while to help J understand my position on the issue and possibly longer for her to appreciate it even if we cannot come to an agreement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a kind of self-adoration dressed up as 'love'. A show of parental love which has the underlying message for all the other children in the community. An underlying message that 'success' is of one particular kind that is dictated by academic achievement in line with goals that the parents themselves had for their children. If it were just a large party it would be pretty innocuous. But more than what it meant for the hosts, it is the interpretation that is taken home by the guests that is so much more loaded. Even dance arangetrams( the first performance) have this organized 'self-promotion' in them, less about the art and more about parents ability to spend a lot of money.