Dear preschool grads: Oh, the cupcakes you’ll enjoy

I didn’t realize graduating from preschool was a big deal. I just assumed it to be an uneventful rite of passage completed by every human to have ever lived — the only exception being Genghis Khan, who was kicked out of preschool for beheading the teacher.

And yet, there it was, the announcement from my niece, informing us she had completed the requirements to graduate (with full honors, I assume) from Pear Park Elementary preschool. There was to be a ceremony, followed by a party, complete with cupcakes and juice boxes — which are legally required for any public gathering of two or more children.

After confirming that a preschool graduation is a real thing, and not some sort of elaborate prank, questions arose: What do you buy for the preschool graduate? For a traditional ceremony, the decision is easy: money or a gift card. In our case, we kept going back and forth between Skittles and a Dora the Explorer backpack.

The other issue we struggled with involved attire. Preschool or not, one assumes a certain degree of dignity and solemnity when the word “commencement” is used on an invitation. Still, we were going to be surrounded by 28-year-old parents at a playground in Fruitvale; the fashion bar would not be set high. This was immediately confirmed by the mom next to me, who (true story), wore a tight black T-shirt that read “Dirty Ghetto Kids.” I suddenly felt much better in my polo shirt.

The class teacher acted as commencement speaker, and she led with some nice opening remarks. She seems sweet,  and kind, and I admire her patience, because if I had to spend all day around a group of 5-year-olds, my lunch hour would involve a liquor store run. But my ears perked up when she told her young charges — without any trace of sarcasm in her voice — “This is not the last step in your education.”

Well that’s a relief. I’m glad these graduates have decided to further their education, by which I mean “go to kindergarten.”

It was then time for the graduates to receive their diploma, which I found somewhat amusing in that none of the graduates could actually read their diploma.

Names were announced, and I caught myself clapping. For what, I’m not sure. This is not the culmination of some extraordinary endeavor. In fact, it would take a lot for you NOT to graduate from preschool. I don’t know what exactly, but I’m pretty sure it would involve either an unpaid tuition bill or a weapons charge.

Yet still we clap, applauding those whose, from what I gather, only achievement in life is that they went eight months without biting someone.

It’s all a little much for me. I can’t decide if this is positive reinforcement that encourages a child’s academic development or if it’s the educational equivalent of giving every kid a trophy. There are caps and gowns, pictures, gifts and parties. And I don’t get it. You graduated from Pear Park Elementary preschool, not Johns Hopkins. Yes, it’s great you can identify the color green. Call me when you’re assisting with an arterial bypass.

My wife, however, says a preschool graduation isn’t hurting anyone, and that I should just shut up and go with it. So I will.

Congratulations, Preschool Class of 2012. We’re so proud of you for all that you’ve accomplished. Like, for example ... um, well, um ... let’s get back to that later. We’re amazed how fast you’ve grown. It seems like just yesterday you were knee high to a grasshopper. Maybe that’s because it WAS yesterday. Yet seeing you in that cap and gown, tears fill our eyes as we can’t help but think, “How much did that cost?”

So congratulations, Class of 2012. I think I speak for all of us family members when I say, “Here’s your Dora the Explorer backpack.”

Now where are the cupcakes?

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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