Monday, July 1, 2013

8th Grade Graduation

Last Thursday night, Mimi graduated from middle school. When Jack left middle school last year, I never thought of him as graduating, mainly because one day middle school ended, we had summer, and then he started high school. For the first time this year, the school decided to have a graduation ceremony to mark the momentous occasion of no longer being a little girl and being a hair away from going to college....or at least that's what it feels like to me. They should have just glossed over it, like they did for Jack, so I wouldn't have to reflect on this milestone.

If you know me at all, you know I am going to cry my eyes out at high school graduation. It's not going to be pretty. This year, we had several friends with seniors so we watched the ceremony on our local television station. I got weepy when kids I didn't even know sang, I welled up when our friend's children crossed the stage, but most of all I cried when a senior girl I didn't know got up to share her story of how she is currently fighting non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and instead of going to college in the fall she will be fighting for her life. I loved the idea of the school having her speak - life isn't tidy, things don't go as planned, and life is tough. It was an inspiring, amazing talk but one I was glad to be at home listening, instead of in person, because I was a puddle.

Fast forward to Mimi's graduation - I knew I would never survive with dry eyes. The night started off with the 7th grade band playing a few songs. No need to cry for that. Then came the awards. Each teacher picked a child that they felt really progressed the most in that subject, whether it was French, History, or Wellness. Mimi's friend Ally won an award for Health because of her positive attitude, wonderful smile, and just general ability to make people happy. That totally describes her - she is one of the sweetest girls. I was sitting with her mom. She was beaming ear to ear. I was wiping away tears for 5 minutes. I can't help myself. And it wasn't even my child!

Then one of Mimi's classmates had written a speech - valedictorian-like - and it was amazing. It made me well up just thinking how proud her parents must have been to hear her. Again, didn't know her.

Then a boy got up who had written a song that he sang acoustically, accompanied by his guitar. He was excellent. Yep, I cried. I was thinking how proud his parents must be, how much courage the kid had to get up and sing in front of about 500 people, and how great he was. That made me think of him potentially performing at their high school graduation, singing the same song...which made me think of Mimi in her cap and gown...and moving away to college...and that made me cry more. Good Lord.

The killer moment was when they were called up to cross the stage and collect their diploma. Seeing Mimi cross the stage was almost too much for me. It just hit me that time is going by so fast and before I know it, she'll be starting her own life and our days of seeing each other every day and having sleep overs are coming to a close. That made me think of Jack going away to college in just three short years and I had a hard time getting myself back under control. Seriously, it's making me well up right now.

When I got home from work it was hectic getting her dinner, getting her ready, and out the door. We didn't have much time to pause, except when she came down right before we left. There she was in her little (and I mean little...you literally can't find anything but teensie little dresses for this age) white dress that had hot pink trim. She was wearing a navy ruffle cardigan over it and hot pink wedge sandals. We curled her hair while she ate dinner and then she put it up in a barrette. She had a little blush on (over her freckles) and pink lipgloss. She literally took my breath away. It made me well up but I distracted myself by taking tons of pictures so she didn't even notice. She would have rolled her eyes at me for sure.

After the graduation there was a school dance for the kids. Tim and I eagerly waited in the hallways between the auditorium and the gym where the dance was, waiting for her to come over and say hi before she disappeared. She never came over. Sigh. She had gone right into the dance and didn't even give us a second thought. Her mind was on her friends, having fun, and being able to take her sweater off and wear a strapless dress because the dress code didn't apply that night. She probably also wanted to avoid Tim and I standing in the hallway with our welled up eyes, with all the other parents. Instead we went right into the dance to say goodbye, with Tim making sure to whisper "Don't dance with any boys."

I picked her up later that night and after she shared all her stories from the night, I told her how beautiful she looked that night and how proud I was of her. Silence. I said "Did you hear me?" and she said "Yep". I looked over and there she was staring out the car window...all welled up. Yes! It wasn't just me that cried that night!!

Happy Graduation, Mimi!


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