Caps & Gowns & Pandemics

11 Jun

Caps & Gowns & Pandemics: some thoughts

WTF people. Why do you put your kindergartner in a cap and gown? What have they accomplished, exactly? Become as well regulated in their toilet training as the family golden retriever?

kind grad

I love when parents share (and overshare! Oh the shade!) on social media. I revel in making fun of these folx well before the cocktails begin to flow at ShropHQ, and the snark only increases with my gin intake. Life prior to social media seems sepia smooth to me these days in my memory of undocumented locker clean outs rather than today’s let’s pose with some certificates for mommy’s Instagram account.

I am childfree, of course, so I shouldn’t cast stones. And yet.

throwinf stones

Middle school graduation photos are utterly painful. Parents don’t kid yourselves that this shit is way more for you than for your kids, who won’t realize until they are 27 that what they really should have gotten was a trophy for surviving puberty.

ron burgundy grad


My favorites are the photos with grinning parents standing next to lackluster teens who clearly would rather be inside playing Mortal Kombat 42 in which they are getting their asses kicked by a 12-year old girl in Australia playing under the name KillSquadLeader6. Look closely; these kids have checked the fuck out.

Senior year final semester during Covid sucked so hard, and their faces show it.

Can you blame them?

class 2020 quarantined

I have been thinking lately about how lame high school graduation was for me. I was not exactly engaged as a HS student (cough cough), so it should be no surprise that I was disinterested in the ceremony that marked its end. I was off to Texas. Ready for adventure. I was so focused on the things ahead of me that I did not take the time to appreciate where I was in the moment. I was focused on getting out, getting away, starting my LIFE.

I feel this frustration bubbling in the graduation drive-bys and the Zoom meetings and front yard pics with social distance signs and grandparents hovering in the background in masks. Part of me enjoys how many people have embraced creative measures to impart a sense of ceremony on those who are being denied it through no fault of their own.

social distance dating

But mainly, it’s frustrating as fuck. My heart breaks for kids who really looked forward to all the frivolity to be had in senior year – the games, the dances, the ceremonies. Even though I didn’t give a toss, I know that many students want and NEED to mark this time and these achievements and are being denied it. No iHeart Radio concert or online address from a celebrity will replace senior prom or having your name called as you are handed that diploma.

For my part, I have taken to writing cards to the grads in my life.

It’s a small thing, but it’s all I’ve got.

I have no idea how these cards are being received, since they don’t contain cash. I get it. Most likely they will be trashed as soon as they are read. And I’m OK with that.

I have actually enjoyed writing them. I have to do them slowly, partly because I have serial killer penmanship, and partly because I want them to have the possibility of being impactful. Maybe, just maybe, a recipient will read the card and NOT roll their eyes at one more piece of unsolicited advice from an adult they aren’t sure remained sober enough (then or now) to really remember what it was like to be 17. After all, I sucked at high school, so who am I to give advice?

write congrats

Maybe, I think wishfully, these few sentences will be more remarkable because I am no one special, nothing amazing in the world other than their friend. Maybe they will take these words to heart more than those from a 30-minute speech given by an important person in a robe – to a crowd of young people dressed alike in similar robes, extolling to them the virtues of non-conformity and being unique in the world.

And really? Does the class of 2020 need any pithy quotes about life and passion and the road ahead of them? In addition to Covid Crap, they are inheriting a shitshow of a country, which (in my humble opinion) is prime for a new revolution. One that is overdue. And it’s gonna hurt.

It’s a world in which Jurassic folks (my age and older) bitch about how lazy and entitled Millennials and Gen Z folx are while simultaneously watching them turn up in impressive numbers across the country to protest injustice peacefully, combatting rage and tear gas (and worse) and then show up again the next day, and the next week, marching for change.

protester silhouette

Meanwhile, I watch some of the same proud balloon-waving Facebook-posting graduation-grinning parents bitch about having to wear a mask to shop at Target.

Pinterest-worthy quotes seem beyond ridiculous to an 18-year old who is venturing into this world of so much palpable uncertainty and strife.

So what do I write?

I try to write the truth.

wondering what to write

Life is not going to go as you want it to go. Ever.

College might go on “hold” for a year – or longer. Many folx lost their jobs and tuition is no longer within reach. Do not blame your parents. Don’t whine; look for solutions, jobs, scholarships, and internships, ways to contribute rather than drain.

All things in your life are reflections of the choices you make.
If you want different outcomes, make different choices.

And for those still going to college, I say that college is probably not going to look like it did for your parents, so be open-minded and flexible. And if you are a first-generation college student, the road map for you might look like directions drunkenly scribbled on a bar napkin. But you can do it.

i have my doubts
BE SKEPTICAL about the interpretations people give you about college, like:

College won’t have the same assholes that HS did (it certainly will – welcome to life); it won’t be as hard as HS (it will be, academically, emotionally, AND you’ll have to feed yourself); you’ll be fine (but you will have to readjust/expand your support systems in order to stay sane); we’ll always be here for you (we love you, but we’re turning your room into a home gym as soon as you drive away).

And in addition to being disabused of these notions, you’ll most likely be faced with social distancing measures that make dating seem like some bizarre game show from 1962 with designer face masks becoming a new mark of social status.

dating game

My (unsolicited, eye-roll inducing) advice?

Live your life by a compass not a clock.

Pandemic fallout might “take” a year from you, but that’s marked in time. Dreams are measured in distance. And just because you followed a winding path to get to your next goal (whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you wasted time in getting there. The journey is as important (and sometimes more so) as the objective. It is a grave mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.

kids move the world

I tell graduates that their education experiences are a grand dress rehearsal for life – a life that will be (at some point, maybe soon) ALL THEIRS to live. It is a great thrill and a crushing responsibility all at once.

I hear young voices every day in my work, the news, online, in discussion boards, and in my personal hemisphere. And they are, without exception, brave without knowing it, strong without being given a trophy for it, and they are discovering that passion and conviction can change the world. This, more than the gin and melatonin, helps me sleep well at night. The kids are gonna be alright. Hell, they might even save us.


Keep Calm and Be Kind
Derelict Deb



Posted by on June 11, 2020 in BLOG DEPOSITS


6 responses to “Caps & Gowns & Pandemics

  1. blueridgedreaming

    June 11, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    OMG I have ALWAYS disliked the whole caps & gowns for kindergarteners. Even when mine were that age.

    • Derelict Deb

      June 15, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      I used to make jokes about how those photos were contributing to the child pageant-and-porn industries, but (ahem) I got a wee bit of shrapnel from that joke.

  2. Jennifer Cooper

    June 11, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Victoria,

    I really enjoyed your post! Ashley has missed out on her GCSE’s, last day at her school before college and prom. We had to self isolate for two weeks in at the beginning of March. Justin brought back Corona from Ishghl, Austria after a boys skiing holiday! Both of us had the virus, but luckily no issues! Given I have no spleen that was a plus!! I think, like you Ashley is really not too bothered, except about Prom. Ashley has really hated Senior School and cannot wait to just get on to college (which is Jr & Sr year in US). I will be sharing your uplifting words with her. I think this girl may change the world. She is our Vegan Cowgirl!!!

    I do hope you and JP are doing well. I saw photos of your swimming pool you were installing. I know you must love that! We are still in lockdown over here, but things are starting to open up.

    Thanks for sharing your post! I have sent it on to some of my friends whose kiddos are missing out!




    • Derelict Deb

      June 15, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      We are well and loving the backyard transformations! Since JP already worked from home, we are much lower risk than others plus we are very limited and careful when we do go out and mask up, etc. Not doing restaurants yet. Grocery shops and some minimal household things. Shops are opening here, but people are crazy about it – getting so angry about measuring 6 feet and wearing masks – and so many acting like the virus doesn’t exist at all. NC is going to see huge spikes I fear – not because those who genuinely need to be back to work are (many of these are responsible business owners and are being safe, running safe POB) but because selfish and bored (read: privileged and/or disillusioned) folx are going to go on holiday to crowded beaches and not wear masks or social distance at all because why? They say I’m not immuno-compromised so only those at high risk should stay home (read: self-absorbed and failed 5th grade science when we learned how viruses work) Or, it’s not that bad, such a small percentage of the population is actually dying from it (read: heartless bastards) Only when impacted personally will they take things seriously, and then (I fear) it will be too late. I’m SO GLAD you and Justin are ok. Me and mine will continue limited contact and venture out cautiously and hopefully we will miss the next wave. BIG LOVE to you and yours!! XOXO

  3. Marisa

    June 12, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Spot on once again Victoria!

    My nephew graduated in May. He dutifully wrote thank you notes for all the gifts and cash. Smiled and waved politely to the parade of Moms passing by with signs and balloons. Graduated on his front porch with his family all dressed up for the virtual ceremony. I received almost 200 photos. He is just ready to move on and go to college. I know the parents were more upset about the kids missing all the traditions and planned all the shenanigans for themselves.

    This weekend we get to attend the piano recital of a seven year old. The daughter of a friend. She will play for two minutes. We will bring flowers because she loves them. Fortunately we were out of town when she graduated from kindergarten. We have still not been completely forgiven for missing it.

    On a positive note I’m hoping my passionately protesting 28 year old son and his girlfriend can save us all.


    • Derelict Deb

      June 15, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      THEY WILL SAVE US ALL. I have faith.


Leave a Reply to Derelict Deb Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: