If everything you truly need to know in life is learned in kindergarten, then my 6-year old boy is officially ready to take on the world. Yes, young master Benjamin “graduated” from kindergarten last week and his mom and I were there to share proud glances at each other as if we were in a Proctor & Gamble commercial.

I am no doubt proud of this first step down his educational path, but I’m still scratching my head when our social norm became the celebration of everyone and everything. The first time someone read my name and people golf-clapped at me was my high school graduation. All of the years before that, the only ceremony I experienced was cleaning out my Trapper Keeper and telling people to “have a neat summer.”

This event was a modest cafetorium ceremony, but I was imagining the more affluent neighborhoods having a gala that looked like Hogwarts at the end of a Harry Potter movie. It’s hard to voice this opinion without sounding like Ol’ Man Caruthers, but it is worrisome to me that we are cultivating a generation that expects a lollipop (or whatever) for every little accomplishment.

Rant aside, here are some of my observations from the ceremony:

- Every kid had the chance to walk on stage as their name was called, and presented with an accomplishment award, like “art” “computer whiz” “citizenship.” And then there’s “Leaps & Bounds”, you can make your own assumption on that award.

- When each kid came to center stage, the teacher also read what they wanted to be when they grow up. There were the tried and true favorites like policeman, fireman and teacher, but there were some standout:

  • Not one kid said “football/baseball/basketball player.” Either these kids are more into academics, or they prefer playing Minecraft instead of sweating.
  • Four different boys said, “helicopter pilot.” It struck me as so specific that there’s either an undercover military recruiter in their school or the gym teacher has been showing old episodes of Airwolf to the class.
  • One boy said, “work at McDonald’s.” He no doubt said it with visions of free fries and Happy Meals in his head, but he’s probably the most accurate guesser. Hey, someone’s gotta do it.
  • Not one kid said, “Midwest regional sales manager.” Although this would have won the “closest to the pin” award.
  • I thought our content crazy society would have sired kids who wanted to be “movie stars” or musicians, but I was dead wrong. Not one kid.
  • When boys said, “soldier” I experienced both pride and fear in the same instant. Pride that a sense of duty and service had been instilled in these little boys, and fear knowing that one of these sweet little 6-year kids might not make it home some day.

- People, stop taking pictures and shooting videos in public with an iPad. It looked like a video wall at Best Buy with 6-7 parents in the front capturing the moment with a tablet. So annoying.

- The teachers had put together a slide show edited to music. First, it was 12 minutes long, that’s a lot of Ken Burns effect to take in. Second, I’m grateful that they didn’t use “Cats in the Cradle.” It is so cliché, but it’ll jerk a tear right out of your soul. Third, I was also grateful they didn’t play “Let It Go.” It now induces a different kind of tears.

- At the very end of the ceremony all of the kindergarteners sang Sinatra’s “New York”, swapping the lyric to “First Grade.” As in, “we want to be a-part of it, first grade, first grade!!” I confess, it was vey cute, but pitchy.

That’s what I got. Please let me know if you want to do the keynote at your upcoming 2nd graders Cum Laude commencement.

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  • reply Danielle Young ,

    Our society definitely celebrates everything, but it certainly makes the kids feel like they are on top of the world. That may be the reason your son is ready to take on the world.

    My youngest enters kindergarten this year, so that will be me in a year. But that ceremony was way more elaborate than any kinder graduation I’ve ever attended.

    Congrats to your Grad :)

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