Would we all just quit apologizing to our grads, already?
“We’re sorry we can’t do it that way so we’ll have to do it this way,” was just the latest message, but it’s been going on for months.
Like say, 15 months.
Telling our grads they’re missing out gives them the message that somehow this is a lesser milestone for them than it would be if we weren’t living in a pandemic. That they can feel sorry for themselves because we feel sorry for them, that this rite of passage is somehow less special because they can’t do it the “usual” way.
This is the only time my son will ever graduate from high school, the only time we will celebrate this specific event marking his transition from childhood to the adult world.
How he celebrates will be as unique for him as it was for his sister who did it differently, or from your son or daughter who did it differently again.
But he keeps getting messages “isn’t it too bad that … ?”
Grad is what we make of it, not what every other grad class has done.
The classes of 2020 and 2021 will have a remarkable distinction in history, and this will be their story to tell.
They are not woeful victims of a big-bad-pandemic that took away all their fun.
They are young adults experiencing significant closure and transition, and this is what we celebrate: we celebrate what IS, not what isn’t.
Our grads have experienced their own pandemic of mask-wearing and social-distancing and losses and grief, just like the rest of us.
We have protected them from the virus as best we can, but they are too mature for us to protect them from the news: they know what’s been going on.
They are inheriting a challenging world as they stand on this threshold, and the grads I know are stepping forward with resolution, courage and tenacity.
Our young adults are not victims: they don’t need to feel sorry for themselves or be consoled because of what they don’t get to do.
Like every other grad in every other year, they need to hear “Wow, you did it!” and “Well done, that took hard work and you deserve a great future.”
They need to hear, “Here’s how we’re going to celebrate your accomplishment …,” and then to hear their community stand to applaud them, loud and long.
As adults, we may have our own regrets about our kids’ grad, but it’s not about us, so let’s choose to stay quiet.
This is THEIR day, their one-and-only high-school grad and it is what it is.
Don’t let’s make it about what it isn’t.
Quit apologizing already, and celebrate these young people as they launch into the adult world.
We’re not sorry for them, we’re proud of them, so let’s tell them so.