Thursday, December 17, 2009
Still Gets to Me
But some occasions manage to break through the repression, even when I know what's coming.
Although the main campus graduation ceremony occurs in late May, some of the specialized programs have December ceremonies. And since they're small, some of them allow the students to give little statements thanking people.
For the record, I consider this a remarkably civilized practice, and I'd love to see it generalized. Students' families make real sacrifices to get them through, and some public expressions of gratitude seem only fair. But one kind always makes me a little weepy: when parents thank their children for stepping up while Mom or Dad was too consumed with schoolwork.
Sometimes it takes a village to raise a parent.
When I can, I try to pick out the family in the audience. It isn't usually hard. They're usually the ones with searchlight-strength smiles and multiple cameras. The kids beam most of all.
I've seen it I-don't-know-how-many-times now, and it still gets me every time. I just can't imagine trying to be a parent and a student - especially in a demanding program -- at the same time. But people do it, and they do it with class and humility. The kids endure, and grow, and forgive, and burst with pride.
As a parent, it's hard to see that and remain unmoved.
Well done, people. Well done.
My children learned first-hand what dedication is--theirs and mine. They are both successful adults today, but they both finished their degrees before getting married and having children. They experienced the hardships and eventual rewards of education on a low budget.
Those parents and their children which you wrote about are amazing. The kids really take responsibility and help their parent. The closeness developed during that time between parent and children never leaves.
I feel fortunate that I received the degree and that my children (whom I never had behavior trouble with then or now) had substantial responsibility.
If their practice clothes for soccer or football needed washing, they had to wash them or they didn't have them. I felt bad about that at the time, but having those responsibilities gave them purpose, too. I never heard a word of complaint from them. They knew I was doing it so we would have more money to live on. They had seen me worrying about the bills. They contributed to our family welfare.
I would like to think that the feeling they received of being in control of important survival-type tasks gave them self-confidence that being a football star couldn't approach.
I would not suggest parents do such a thing just to give children an opportunity to be responsible, but sometimes I wonder if today's parents protect their children too much and don't give them real responsibilities which the children can see do make a real contribution to their family/community's welfare.
Of course the kids at their parent's graduation were beaming. They were proud of themselves (knowing what they had done during that time to support their parent) and their parent's accomplishment. They did hard work so their parents could get the degree, and the graduation was their recognition time too.
I get weepy thinking about what that time was like and remembering my graduation. Kudos to the kids. And the parent-students.
Today, I always feel touched when my students give speeches about why they are in college and they say "because I want to show my son/daughter that this can be done."
Now I teach at a CC; roughly half my students are parents, and easily half of the parents work in addition to school and parenting. When they're giving it their all, I'm their biggest cheerleader.
And I encourage them all to attend the graduation ceremony; it's a rite of passage at the end of a challenge, and one they shouldn't miss. And I'm right there processing in and sitting with them, cheering as they stand to walk up to the stage. I couldn't be prouder of what they've accomplished.