As many of you know, I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth at times. Not often, but at times. That’s from my point of view of course. Well, here is what happened at graduation when I openly gave my opinion.
Our graduation was held outdoors on the football field. Let me backtrack and say that girls in ridiculously high, high-heels, really need to graduate from a school who uses an inside auditorium or church or venue where they don’t have to march across the grass. Young Parents, take note. If you have a daughter scout out only the schools who hold inside graduation ceremonies or insist on flats for the ceremony. This will save possible embarrassment or a broken ankle for your little beauty.
Second, outdoors was nice except we stared into the sun for three hours. Granted it was held as early as possible but still by noon the sun was an issue. This old momma took her large, straw beach hat and wore it proudly even if some thought it embarrassing. At times I believe that the lady next to me was trying to scooch under the brim with me.
All in all, our day was beautiful, the young students were beautiful, and excitement filled the air as the parents and families poured into the football stadium. The students had practiced the day before, so we knew which side of the field to sit on. Ours happened to be on the sunny side, hence the large hat. Conversations buzzed in the air as we all sat forward on the edge of our seats looking for glimpses of our loved ones darting about through the crowds.
The music began. We said the pledge and a prayer and watched with pride as our students marched the length of the football field to their chairs. Tears pooled in my eyes as I whispered a small prayer for ours not to fall. A few girls wobbled and giggled, but they made it safely to the rows of white chairs. The speeches were given, honors were given, sweat was rolling on our side of the field, and it was time.
The first row stood, and the names were called. A few cheers from the field and they marched on. About the time the “B’s” were finished and the “C’s” were on the stairs I noticed that a few from our side of the field were climbing down the stadium seats and leaving. I was a little surprised. By the end of the “F’s” and mid-way to the “G’s” people were milling about the track visiting. Some were going to get water – which was appreciated but by the end of the “K’s” our side of the stadium was thinning out.
So, I turned to the lady next to me and said, “What are all these people doing? No one is listening to the ceremony.” She nodded and the first few “L’s” went by before she answered, “Most people leave as soon as their kids go through to avoid the traffic.” I nodded because we are an “M” and the “M” row was now standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the podium.
Ours went through and we cheered and wiped our tears and I sat back down to watch the rest of the ceremony. By now, our side was about half empty, the track was teeming, and I tuned to the woman beside me to confide my feelings. Since they were still there I thought that they were being gracious to all students as were we. I said, “I think it is extremely rude for these people to leave once their kids names are called out. What about the last kid? They deserve some cheers and folks watching.”
I turned back to the ceremony as we were now on the “R’s” and watched people leave the football stadium. The lady next to me shifted in her seat because, let’s face it, we were dripping sweat down behind our knees and it was getting uncomfortable. Still I felt like we should encourage all kids, not just our own. Finally, she said, “My husband says we are leaving as soon as they call our son’s name to avoid the traffic.”
I tried to back track, but I had already said my piece. Turns out they were at the end of the “T’s.” I gave a feeble smile. A few minutes later they gave a loud cheer and turned to leave. She turned back to me and said, “Sorry, at least we were towards the end.” I smiled and shrugged.
The same thing happened at Christmas during the band concert. When the sixth grade was finished, all the parents left. By the eighth-grade concert the auditorium was barely half filled. The concert was great! Not only did I want my sixth grader to stay so he could see what a better band sounded like and so he could be encouraged but I also wanted to support the entire band program – not just my son.
This really bugs me. When did we quit cheering on others’ children? When did parents quit working together to provide a positive environment for all? Since when is it OK to disrupt a ceremony for selfish reasons? I have always been glad to sit through to the end – even when I thought I was too busy to do so. How can parents encourage their children to be respectful and courteous to others when their only focus is their child and only their child?
We have other issues to be sure, but the attention to self and only self is an epidemic that we must address if we want to live in a world of peace and harmony. Courtesy towards others should not be a thing of the past.