My oldest is graduating from Junior High tomorrow. Having grown up outside of the U.S., I was blissfully unaware of the tradition of throwing “graduation parties” for kids graduating from junior high and senior high schools. It was a puzzling concept to say the least. Where I grew up, it is kind of expected that you would graduate from high school. Junior high at the very least. Not even a question. [Disclaimer: My second oldest brother and his second son never graduated from junior high. But that's another post I will never write] That being said, I am happy that Number One Son has several graduation parties lined up where he could go hang out with his school friends IN REAL LIFE and hopefully in the sun instead of spending all his waking hours indoors basking in the glow of the computer monitor on Minecraft.
IMO. The best parties are the ones not thrown by me.
I am going to sound like the old lady that I am by telling everybody, “When I was your age, I did not get squat for graduating from high school.” Well, I would be lying. When I passed the entrance exam and got into the best high school, my parents asked me, for the first time, what I would like as a prize. Without hesitation, I said, “Legos.” Legos were luxury goods back then. My parents kept their words and took me to the “American” toy store (Toys R Us) to pick out a Lego set for myself. It was one of those “dreams come true but then what?” stories – I think I enjoyed the fact of owning a set of Legos more than the Legos itself.
The day when the results of the college entrance exam were published, my dad came home with the newspaper and started looking for my name. When he found it, he asked what he could get me as a reward for bringing honor to the family. Ok. Kidding about the honor part. You didn’t really think we talk that way, did you? I told him, “I would like some cha siu bao [BBQ pork buns].” He immediately went out on his motorcycle and brought home ten piping hot pork buns. I ate them all in one sitting, much to my mother’s chagrin. To this day I know what I would say without hesitation if asked what my favorite food is in the world.
I never begrudge my children for “having it better” than I did. And really, are they really having it better? I never felt any want even though we were poor which I did not realize until much later in life, and only in retrospect. Life was easier for me to navigate because there was only one goal: study hard and get into a good school. (Of course, once you got into that good school, you kind of were lost. What now? …)
I am getting restless in anticipation of his graduation, but probably not for the right reason: I am dying to give him his graduation present.
Confession: I also wrote this post not for the right reason: I simply wanted to show you this awesome engraving.