This graduating stuff is for the birds. I’m agin it. Here’s why.

This stuff is costly. From senior pictures that I didn’t order to announcements to tuxes and prom…and never mind college. Holy moly. And everything is so much trouble and nothing works the way it should.

Exhibit A: The announcements. Should be simple enough to order something, right? Feeling quite smart and superior, we weren’t going to order through the school. Those things are outrageous! No, that’s right, we’re above it all and we will take care of this ourselves. Famous last words.

I decide to go super cheap and simple. We’ll do it online. Upload some pictures to Walmart and have them printed on a thingy. No worries. I’m feeling oh-so-brilliant about myself when I send a picture to a friend of one of the thingy’s I’ve ordered. “Isn’t graduation at 11:00?” she asked. And like Ralphie from a Christmas Story, I said FUUUUUDGE! That’s right, pride comes before the fall, and I totally screwed up the announcements with the wrong time. I’ll just go online and cancel the order or edit it, right? Well, darn Walmart and all their efficiency. I made some new ones and thought I had cancelled others, but …short story long, we have twice as many announcements as we need, and half of them have the wrong time. Currently accepting crafty ideas on what to do with 80 worthless announcements and pictures of one good looking kid.

But I digress. Many bad words and much stress later, we do, indeed, have announcements in hand.

Last night, the boy is sitting at the kitchen table, addressing some envelopes to mail those precious announcements, and he’s confused. Ya see, for some reason he thinks I should help him. Au contrare, mon frere! This is your show, bud. Welcome to adulthood.

Now let’s stop right there. It’s astonishing how many kids don’t know how to address an envelope. Or my friend, who shall remain nameless, lest it embarrass TLFNBS, whose son was doing the same, and said, “What’s po box?” Only he didn’t even say P.O. He said, “Po.” Kids these days, am I right? I have had my son ask where to put the stamp. While this may not be “taught,” don’t you guys ever look at the mail you take from the mailbox? Observe!

It’s at times like these when I understand the frustration of my own father when I didn’t know something he thought I ought to. Of course, when you’re the one on the other end of things, you just think, “Well, how should I know that? No one TOLD me!”

But I digress.

The boy is at the table making out envelopes. He has asked for addresses and suggestions of whom to send announcements. Having refused to help, I’m merely sitting nearby while I sip a cold drink and play on my phone and answer any questions he may have. I help him find a few addresses, sure, but I cringe as I watch him struggle to write legibly and put the addresses way too far up on the envelope. But I say nothing. It’ll be all right.

“It’ll be all right,” is what I keep telling myself as we have muddled through the tangled labyrinth of forms and paperwork for college in the last six months. From scholarships to financial aid to essays and applications…there should be a book on how to do this for Dummies. Actually, I just asked my friend Amazon, and was surprised that there isn’t. Maybe I should….anyway, back to the matter at hand.

I really don’t feel THAT old, but when I went to college, it seems like I drove to the campus and found an appropriate office and filled out some papers and they told me when to show back up and that was that. A few years later I had a degree.

I have literally sent the same fax 13 times, only to be told they need that same form. Why can’t this be in one pack and we fill stuff out and we’re done? Need money? Go see this dude. Then that dude helps. It all seems to be beyond me, and I ask a thousand dumb questions, like what’s the difference in a sub loan and an un-sub loan?

Today, my son is, for a little longer, still in high school, and emotionally, I already feel like a Grateful Dead roadie at the end of the farewell tour, looking much worse for the wear, exhausted, and probably fairly lost. Like, hey, man…what’s going on here? There’s just too much going on, man…

I’ve reverted back to the parenting style that my parents adopted, which is pretty free-range. I took care of most everything myself as a kid, so I keep telling the boy to figure it out. So far, so good.

You know why graduation stinks? Besides the money and trouble? It stinks because my boy is leaving me. I know he’s ready, and I know it’s much preferable to the alternative of him not being able to leave, but…where is the little boy who wanted a toy trash truck for Christmas? Where is the baby who kept me up all night long crying? Where is the little guy who loved to drive his tractors through Play-Doh and slept with his toy backhoe? The little boy who wanted me to read the same train books over and over and who screamed when we tried to cut his hair? That boy now is running errands for me, picking up his brother from practice, mowing grass and working, stopping and getting groceries, going out on Saturday night with his friends, and thinking about what he’ll need in his dorm this fall. That baby ain’t a baby anymore but in my head. It’s how it’s supposed to go, but the present makes the past more poignant, doesn’t it?

And that, folks, is why I’m against graduation. Let’s just pretend it ain’t happening. I’ll deal with it later, when I’m alone. Right now I have some more faxes to send and announcements to screw up. It’s apparently how this is done.

A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at

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