Where have I been, you ask? In my kitchen, thank you very much.
Escaping the Annual Grad-Dad-Hell.
Grad-Dad-Hell (Mid-May to Mid-June) is a time when America starts to relax a little, as the weather is warmer, the days are longer, there is charcoal to be purchased, Memorial day hot dogs to eat, and if you are really lucky, the countdown to a beach vacay begins.
For me, Grad-Dad-Hell begins typically right after Mother’s Day(1) with university and high school graduations, spanning all of the other absurd and ridiculously-marked “graduation” milestones in between, and ends with Father’s Day.
I am employed by a university, so my life runs in semester cycles, much the same way it did when I was 18. Indeed, in all things personal and professional, I tend to calendar my life in these segments as well, six months out at a stretch, making time in general something manageable for someone who otherwise would mark it with Halloween (the most important holiday of the year) bottles of vodka, Macy’s white sale, and vet visits.
So on my calendar, Grad-Dad-Hell begins with mid-May college graduation.
A true cause for celebration.
4.3 MILLION freshman started college in 2004, but because the U.S. government does not track them, it’s impossible to know how many graduated(2). Some students (like me) start at one college and graduate from another. Of these, 2 .1 million didn’t graduate and 1.2 million are not counted, including part time students (why the hell not?). So completing a college degree? Facing the almost certain crushing debt (3) in order to pursue a dream and a career path? A pretty damn big deal.
Want to see how colleges in your state fared? Click on this cool link: http://collegecompletion.chronicle.com/
So pop some champagne. Celebrate. This is a BIG MOMENT. Drink it in.
I will attend these. I will buy gifts for these. These are a big deal.
Slapping a cap and gown on your toddler and attending a bullshit “kindergarten graduation”?
This has got to be one of the dumbest things ever.
AND It represents so much of what is wrong with the American education system in one grand empty moment. Let’s pat little Jeremy on the back and tell him he’s “graduating” to first grade because he stopped eating paste (mostly) and learned his ABCs (well through P anyway) this year. He can count to 25 but he’s not entirely potty trained; let’s give him a fucking cupcake and tell him how PROUD we are of him. REALLY?
Check out this kindergarten “graduation” action shot.
First, there’s the graduate, whose facial expression tells us all we need to know. Even 5 year olds know how frickin’ dumb this is. And how annoying helicopter parents who insist on photographing this “achievement” are – to not only him, but everyone around him. Practice that plastic smile kid; it will serve you well when you’re a congressman one day.
Next is the administrator/teacher, bending over to congratulate him on (what? surviving the bus ride most days?) Paying attention? He’s not doing that now anymore than he most likely did in class. Oh no. She’s smiling tolerantly because she only has three more years to retirement and is grateful that she got tenure before her state discontinued it.
And the teacher in the background? Look at her honest expression. Concern. Boredom. She wonders if her measly salary is worth the bullshit of having legislators tell her how to do her job (4). She looks at her students’ younger siblings and wonders if they will pass the EOGs so that she can keep her job and her school can keep its funding – both true fears based on teaching to the test as a result of NCLB (No Child Left Behind) or the coming atrocity of the Common Core (coming soon to your kids’ classrooms this year).
It’s the same detestable idea that every kid on a sports team gets a trophy just for showing up to practices and games on a schedule. Having a heartbeat is NOT the same as having heart. We do the next generation an enormous disservice by raising them with the expectation that it is. They become entitled, and we make it worse by giving them the idea that failure isn’t really possible. Or if they do manage to fail, it’s everyone else’s fault. And in the end, little Jeremy graduates from high school with little practical math or science skills and rudimentary reading and writing abilities.
So all the other “graduations”? Fourth grade? Eighth grade? Shut the hell up. They are all just as stupid. I had cocktails in a dive bar with a girlfriend who was skipping her niece’s 6th grade graduation. Time much better spent.
This ad is actually marketing “8th grade graduation” dresses.
A school dance? OK But “Graduation”? Really?
I’m no prude, but how does this attire scream “ACHIEVEMENT” for a 13 year old girl?
Eighth grade DANCES are the big excuse for 13 year old girls to dress like 23 year olds and get ready for the drama and sex that is high school, not “graduation”. Especially when they live in my state -big nod here to our dipshit state government- which is an “abstinence only” state, which also has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation (5).
Celebrating the end of the school year should be some pool fun, some ice cream, even a school-sanctioned dance that gives over-stressed teachers a chance to use those hip flasks they got for Christmas. BUT DON’T CALL IT GRADUATION. DOING SO INSULTS THE TRUE CEREMONIES FOR WHICH YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE WORKED SO HARD!
20% of students in grades 9-12 in my state drop out(6). For many reasons, for many people, this is where their formal education will end. They have worked hard for it, and it should be celebrated as a Truly Big Deal. Some (more advantaged) students may not see it as momentous, for many others it will be the one time in their whole lives when an auditorium of people stand and cheer and applaud them. Showing them love and appreciation for something they’ve done. And that’s very cool.
Slapping a cap and gown on your 6 year old will not encourage her to be successful.
It only cheapens and diminishes the REAL academic milestones in our nation, and parents who do this should feel as stupid as their kids look.
And Father’s Day? Well it’s a non-holiday in my house, because we are Kid-Free (or Childless, if you prefer to pity us). Hubby lost his dad last September, and Mackula has been gone for over 6 years now. Here is one of my favorites photos of them, laughing, like they almost always were:
During Grad-Dad-Hell, I spend less time online and on social media. I manage to ignore more emails than I check and I do a lot of Devoted Domestic Living, which is often messy but nonetheless productive. This year I cleaned two closets upstairs, the attic, and mostly house-broke a 3 month old puppy.
Hubby is always happy for it, for not only does this lack of tech results in amazing shit getting accomplished around the house (last year I re-grouted the kitchen floors and the upstairs bath, and painted the den bookcases) but delicious dinners that I had no time to cook before (apparently) have magically starting appearing at the table most nights. Last night we had grilled venison with the season’s first best beefsteak tomatoes in a salad with avocados and almonds, grilled venison fillets and white chocolate pot-de-crèmes with fresh blueberries.
That’s right, bitches. Grad-Dad-Hell sees an unholy rash of Culinary Feats at my house.
Homemade lasagnas (every 10 takes a full day in the kitchen, and this year I made 30) homemade blueberry, strawberry, kiwi, ginger laden jams, and some of my famous homemade Kahlua (7) I also can tomatoes, beans, and peaches, but those come later in the summer, when they are roadside ripe and the brightest colors in God’s canvas. Hubby hasn’t eaten (processed) tomatoes or green beans from a can in over a decade. I hear no complaints.
2014 Grad-Dad-Hell is finally over. Now on to things that really matter…
(1) See earlier chapter re: My Non-Mother-Mother’s-Day Adventures. Mostly these involve weekends escaped to the beach, and lots of vodka.
(3) For the nation as a whole, average in-state tuition and fee prices are $8,893 for public four-year and $3,264 for public two-year institutions
(4) In my state (NC) the average salary for a certified (and with e BA) public school teacher with 10 years of experience is $40K
(7) I will NOT share the recipe. Stop asking.