Mar 3, 2009

Deciding It Does Not Matter

When do you decide something is not worth pursuing? When do you decide to make something an issue or not? When do you let them just face the plain old consequences? When do you indulge their notions? When do you MAKE them do something?

My child number 2 is graduating from high school this year and child number 2 definitely gets notions. Like the time in 8th grade that she decided that she did not like the way we chose to spell her name and she changed it. Just like that. There ought to be a law. I think Madeline looks so much more elegant than Maddilyn. I am not one of those people who is into creative spellings of the originals. But I let it go. Even though it hurt my feelings a little. And even though I wish she could see how "hokey" the spelling Maddilyn looks. I mostly let it go because when I was in Jr. High I decided to change my name to Guinevere. I did not have the determination that Madeline has and did not carry this notion very far. I gave up pretty quickly.

Madeline's latest notion is about graduation from high school. We have only lived here in Massachusetts a year and three months and Madeline does not feel like that has been enough time for her to want to do all the graduation stuff at her high school. I have been thinking and thinking about this decision she has made. Will she regret it in years to come? No pictures in a graduation gown? No walking in rows with other kids....that she does not know. No memories? I think when she sees herself graduating she has always seen herself in Indiana so she can not wrap her mind around any other idea. And frankly I am okay with it.

I have never been the kind of mom to get too deeply into the ceremonies and rights of passage involved in life. I recognize them, understand their significance, but I do not obsess about them. I do not feel like I will die if I do not see my child in a cap and gown walking to Pomp and Circumstance with hundreds of other children. My only worry is that she may regret it. But isn't life full of regret from decisions we made? Honestly where does high school graduation fit into life? Would you be the same person you are today if you had not worn that gown and walked?

She is a straight A student. She was the captain of the track team. She made it to All State's in the hurdles and long jump. She is in National Honor Society. She took all AP and Honors classes. She got accepted to BYU with a half tuition scholarship. What more could a mom want? I probably should be grateful that she does not care what other people think of her and that she makes her own decisions. So I am going to let the "not going to actual graduation thing" go. I am going to make her write about her decision so she can have something to look back on years down the road when her kids want to know about her high school graduation. I am going to be grateful that I am saving all the money that graduation costs.

Did you ever miss anything that you wish you wouldn't have? I have a small list in my head of things I wish my parents would have MADE me do even though I know they never could have made me do them. We need someone to blame for our regret other than ourselves. :)


Annie said...

I dropped out of high school and got my GED. I don't think it's had a significant impact on my life, but I also didn't have high or specific college aspirations. I know that this is a lot different than whether to walk or not, but I just wanted to put it into perspective. ;)

I guess another way to look at it... I didn't have a very nice wedding. It was hasty and cheap and we had a lousy photographer.

It's the marriage that matters and it's the marriage I treasure and document. If high school was a good journey and that has been documented, that's what's significant. Then she'll move on to college and that journey will be significant. I don't know that any one event is more important on this journey, or so important that you have to blow a stack of cash and fight a battle she obviously doesn't care about. ;)

I love your blog, btw.

Mama Parker said...

Sounds like you have an independent thinker! Graduation is more symbolic than anything - a celebration of education, a rite of passage for your graduating class that you weathered the storm together. I can see where she doesn't care too much about walking with a group of kids she doesn't know.

I am sentimental so I am happy to reflect on pictures of graduation (was I really ever that young and carefree?) and I still have my tassel somewhere.

Maybe she could get a class ring to commemorate the event instead? But she probably doesn't feel attached enough to her school's mascot, colors or logo. Maybe something that incorporates IN & MA? Or maybe she doesn't wear jewelery!

It's not like it's the only graduation either. She will later grad. from BYU and may feel like walking then with classmates she knows and a school that she feels a part of.

I didn't go to my high school proms and I honestly don't regret that at all. Instead my mom let me go shopping for clothes with the money we would have spent on a dress.

Maybe you can celebrate as a family instead!

Jenny said...

This is so very interesting!

I purposefully skipped school the day the senior class was taking the big class picture that would have a double page spread on the cover of the yearbook. So everytime I look at that yearbook (more often now with facebook and all) I'm reminded of what I was thinking about when I was a senior. And then my kids ask why I wasn't in the picture and I explain to them that I thought I was too cool but how now I wished I was in the picture.

I love the idea of having her write a letter to herself and future kids. You are such a good mom to let her make her own decision. The best thing my parents ever did was let me decide on my own to ditch BYU (and my 1/2 tuition scholarship!) and move to Kansas on a whim because it was my decision. And then my mistakes became my own mistakes and I turned them into success.

Hannah said...

I went to my high school graduation, but I couldn't tell you a single detail about it. And it really was not that long ago. I have no idea who gave speeches, what music was played besides the bag pipe processional and pomp and circumstance, or even who the valedictorian was. I remember that I didn't fall! Obviously not a life changing experience, just a tradition most people don't think twice about. Really I'm impressed she has the perspective to realize that going or not going is not going to drastically change her life. Go Madeline!!

Bernd and Rachel said...

I can see where Madeline is coming from and I think you're making a great decision to be hands off Jenn. I have my diploma from a high school I never went to (some school in Utah that coordinated with BYU independent study) and frankly, I am not bothered by it. I think my college experience was far more significant than high school.:) Madeline has done some amazing things-it's because she has an amazing Mom!:)

My Many Coloured Days said...

Oh, high school graduation... apparently you've struck a chord. Mr. Man's little sister is graduating HS this year and is making a HUGE big deal out of it and can't understand why we aren't all dropping everything and flying out for a Thursday night ceremony!!! I actually missed mine... it was back in the day when it was a commencement ceremony in the fall and I was a plane ride away attending university. Part of me wonders about all those who were there... but I don't have any regrets.

The Motherboard said...

I think its more important that she graduates, and not the pomp and circumstance.

One of your other commenters nailed it... Its the actual thing-- like the marriage or the graduating that is important. Will she regret not having photos? Probably not. My husband doesn't.

CJ said...

Since she kind of feels like she should be graduating at the other school, do you happen to have Zach's cap and gown from his graduation? If you do have her put it on and take pictures.

A class ring is a nice suggestion and most places could put the other school's logo on it too. I thought the proms and formals were a waste of money but I did get graduation announcements, pictures, the ring, Letterman's jacket, necklace thingie and I still have all of it too. But the thing that gives me the most memories is the pictures. The rest of it is just stored away. One thing about the ring though, would she even want to wear it once she was at BYU?

I didn't go to college, I was working and then got married and kept working while he went to college. He graduated but he wanted nothing to do with the graduation ceremony. So many girls go to college, meet Mr. Right, get married and don't finish school too. I wouldn't force her to attend graduation, but I would have her take pictures and celebrate with the family or even some friends if she wants to and take pictures of that too. The letter to herself is a good idea too.

CJ said...

I got to thinking about the ring, even Wal-mart has them now and they have non-traditional types like this one too:

Or if she wants more then one stone could go with something like this. It is a mother's ring style but simple enough that it could be for anything. I actually have this ring, I got it almost 4 years ago in white gold with my stone, Jason's and our two dogs. You can put up to 6 stones, so she could have her old school colors, her current school colors or even mix in her birth stone or BYU colors.

There are a couple of other styles too and since it isn't a traditional class ring as long as she likes the color combo she picked out she can wear it for a long time and it could be her own creation as she gets to pick which stone goes where. There is another one similar to this one that comes in silver too.

Maddilyn (yeah, that's right) said...

Actually, I made it to All-States in hurdles, long jump, and 4 by 4, and you forgot to mention I'm going to Nationals for hurdles. But thats okay. And I won't regret it. You can all check in twenty years from now and I'll be bragging about the fact that I boycotted my high school graduation. You know it's true Mom.

another day in the life of... said...

graduation, schmaduation...

Anne Marie said...

I don't think she'll regret it very much at all. Good for you to let her decide. I ended up graduating from high school a year early and so graduated with classmates that I didn't even know very well at all. I kind of regret doing all the graduation stuff since I didn't even have my closest friends there to celebrate with. (By the way, Maddilyn is gorgeous. Love that pic of her.)

The Lassen Family said...

Yeah, it's all over-rated and more for the parents anyways. I think that it is the kids who don't have much to look forward to who care the most. "Maddilyn" just knows where she's going and will leave them all in the dust :)