For the parents, that is. The graduates - they'll survive no problemo. Parents, its a different story for you...
So, if you ever pop over here looking to be mildly entertained for a few minutes, you may have noticed I went slightly MIA for a couple weeks.
I thought about you. I thought about this place I call Blogville and the people who leave me messages but I just couldn't seem to carve out the time needed to collect my thoughts into one spot long enough to stop.
Basically, I'm sugar coating - I've been a scatterbrained goon who made lists on her lists in order to organize a shin dig worthy of something as significant as my eldest graduating from High School. And we did it. As of Sunday afternoon, we had ourselves an official graduate but I'll be the first to admit - the process does not come without a little stress (just a bit. Like a pinch.) on good ol' Ma and Pa.
So, I'm here. I've survived and like so many other things - I want to pass along to you my personal version of Parental Grad Survival 101.
Are you ready?
I'll wait if you want to get a pencil.
Let's do this.
A helpful timeline to get you through celebrating your child's graduation;
1. Six months before graduation date - buy stock in Kleenex. You, yourself, if you're at all a prepared parent - will likely single handedly buy enough of the product to see a rise in stock. You may as well get a little payback from your donation to Tissue Corporation.
2. Five months before graduation date - take everything off of the walls in your home. All of it. You will first off, be happy its gone when your "preparation instinct" (like the nesting instincts you may have had when you were preggo, but worse. Bigger kid, bigger nesting.) kicks in. Don't be surprised if you find yourself repainting the entire house (Why in the heck are our walls gray? I can't work with gray! Gray is a terrible backdrop color for the school artwork collage I want to display! WHO CHOSE THIS TERRIBLE SHADE?!?!) in an effort to make your house "presentable." (Even though just last month it was a perfectly home-y and livable space.)
Secondly - choosing "just a few" photos becomes an insurmountable task. Start early. If you've been taking pictures of that little Cherub since the hospital days - there's a lot to go through. You can't display them all. You only have so much wall space, after all.
Trust me, start this process early.
3. One month before graduation date - start scouring for nearby venues to host your newly relocated shin dig. Decide there's no way you can fit that many people or photos in your house and you don't like the new paint color anyway so lets just have it at the Marriott or the party room at the Zoo. It doesn't matter to you as long as you no longer have the stress of having it at your home.
4. Three weeks before graduation date - download apps of all 12 of the "Accurate 30-day Weather Predictors." Check daily. No, check hourly. Begin damning Mother Nature every time you check and it shows anything other than "sunny and 75" on what's supposed to be your child's glorious party day. How dare that witch think she's getting away with cloudy and 58?
5. Two weeks before graduation date - test your menu. Then be prepared to test it again 131 more times because suddenly your Grad-to-be doesn't like that salad and your youngest nearly chokes on apple chunks that size and you know of two people on your side (alone!) who are gluten-intolerant!!
Make changes. Make more changes. Keep changing until you either please everyone or have an absolute spaz moment and scream at the top of your lungs, "THAT IS IT! NO MORE CHANGES - WE ARE KEEPING THIS MENU AS IS AND SO HELP ME GOD YOU ARE ALL GOING TO EAT IT WITH A SMILE."
Watch as your family backs away slowly.
6. One week before graduation date - visit medical supply store. Buy medical grade tissues (standard store tissues may not hold the fountain of tears that you are capable of producing) and an inhaler. No need to be asthmatic - the "we don't have enough food" freak out that's coming your way will be use enough for that baby. Keep it nearby...
7. Three days before graduation date - realize all the stress of planning is making you sprout extra gray hair. Call stylist and beg her to help. Tip stylist 70% for staying at work until 11pm the next evening to provide adequate coverage to your grays.
Also, while in stylist chair, sit with those weird mask pieces on your face. Don't take them off after just 20 minutes. Who cares what the package says! If 20 minutes is supposed to be good for smoothing out your skin and giving it a glow - imagine how good it will look after 75 minutes!! Remember, graduation is like Mom-Prom. You have to take a lot of pictures and its stressful to think that Eleanor's mom (who wears a size four!) might possibly show up in the same dress as you. ...Oh that reminds me, get back up dress and put it in car - just in case.
8. Night before graduation date - lay in bed and let the slow-mo movie of your soon-to-be Graduate's life play over and over in front of your eyes. Feel free to pause at some of the really good moments, after all -you're not going to sleep anyway, you might as well enjoy the trip down memory lane. Jump out of bed six or seven times to add more items to your list and then curl back in and unpause the show. Your brain is a movie projector tonight and there's a full-screen viewing of The Last 18 Years playing - you can't miss this, can you?
9. Graduation day - two hours prior - flitter about making last minute preparations. Bark at anyone who gets in your way, including the dog. Then when Graduate child exits their room in their gown and asks you, "how do I put this cap on?" drop what you're doing and find the medical grade tissues. (WHERE DID I PUT THOSE TISSUES DAMMIT?!) They are so mature and formal looking and you just need a moment to make sure this one gets added to the brain's memory reel. Then go help with the hat because oh my word, Dear Child the elastic goes in the back. Are you sure you're getting a diploma today??
10. Graduation day - annihilate entire box of medical grade tissues. Hug your grad. Tell them how proud you are. Hug your grad's friends. Tell them how proud you are. Hug your friends. Take lots of pictures. Even take pictures with Eleanor's mom who DID show up in the same dress as you but realize if you stand close enough no one will know where her hips end and yours begin. Smile so much your cheeks hurt.
Go home. Stare at giganto piles of photos and cards and leftover food containers.
Get leftovers in fridge then grab a glass of wine. The rest of it can wait. You need a minute to soak in the fact that - you did it.
Congrats Mama. (And dad if you're reading this. Or if you helped. Or if you just managed to stay out of her way enough so she didn't kill you and you lived to see this day too. Congrats on that.)
It was a big day for all of you.