Jewish World Review May 21, 2004 / 1 Sivan, 5764
Graduation: When the last is the first
The baby is graduating from high school.
She was the preschool kid who insisted that I, a former newspaper
photographer, be the one to take her school picture swinging upside down
from the monkey bars. She was the kindergarten kid who came home and
claimed that in addition to a reading center and a craft center, there was
also a kissing center. She was the first-grade student who threatened to
punch out a boy because he called her sexy.
The baby in our family shares personality traits common to last-borns in
many families. Last-borns are a party waiting to happen. They are fun,
loud, rowdy, creative, entertaining, quick-witted and believe that each and
every Friday night comes with an unwritten mandate to gather with 200,
2,000 or 2 million of their closest friends.
Last borns feel like they're always bringing up the rear. They're the last
to ride the school bus, take the training wheels off their bikes and get a
driver's permit. Now she's the last again -- the last one to close the door
behind her with a hollow thud and leave us without a single solitary
music-blasting, pizza-crazed teenager in the house.
Oh, we won't be entirely childless. It's a myth that kids leave home. They
may go to college, but they always come back. Holidays, weekends. What they
neglect to tell you in the parenthood manual is that when the kids come
back, they multiply. They bring friends. I spend so much time at the
grocery store that the manager offered me my own cart and a personalized
nametag that says 20 years of service.
Some of the thrill is gone when your third one graduates. It's not like
this is a shock to the baby in the family. She'll be the first to tell you
she has the fewest number of pictures in the photo albums and was allowed
to dip fish sticks in ketchup because Mom was too tired to argue.
Being the last of three to graduate, she's heard us deliver the "You're
Graduating from High School" speech enough times that she can lip sync it
and fill in the blanks.
"Sweetie, your father and I would like to talk to you about this . . . "
"Life changing time, right?"
"Right, we'd like to point out that the world . . ."
"That the world is my oyster, right? I can hitch my wagon to a star and I
have the world by the tail. You're not going to sing Sunrise, Sunset from
Fiddler are you, Dad?"
"I'm not, but your mother might. We would also like to remind you
that when you go to college, you will be taking . . . "
"I'll be taking the family name with me. I should remember who I
am and what you taught me. I know, Dad."
"Don't you want to tell me about the roads, Mom? You know, take
the road less traveled, choose the high road, stay on the straight and
narrow road and I'll have no regrets."
"Yes, I did want to tell you that. And remember, Dad and I are your biggest
cheerleaders, but . . . "
"But if I push the envelope, I can come home and work, because
you're not paying for a four-year party."
"Exactly. Now, did we leave anything out?"
"Nope, you and Dad covered it."
"Good. Now could you please pass me the tissues?"
"Sure, but I don't remember you getting teary eyed when you gave this
speech to the other two. This is a first."
"No, this is the last."
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© 2001, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
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