Thursday, July 11, 2013

How I ruined my daughter's 6th grade graduation

I'll just come straight out and say that I was really dreading my youngest daughter's 6th grade graduation.  Last year, my middle one graduated from sixth grade (in case you're wondering they are 21 mos apart and yes nursing is not birth control - but in the end it turned out fine) and it was the first class to graduate from her school.  It was looooong.  Not just a little long but intensely long.  Lots of speeches from lots of people (all in Hebrew of course which makes it longer) and a cute play from the kids that only got started after 9:30 pm.

You may think this is the exception to the rule, but in Israel it's not.  All of the ceremonies the kids have are long.  Too long.  The kids are made to wait quietly (why they aren't made to sit like that when they are actually in class I have no idea) while other kids and adults come up and speak or until it is their turn to play a song on the recorder (yes, that's right the recorder) or sing AND dance.  Not just sing or dance but AND dance.

Just a side note here - Israeli kids love American music and there is no clean version here so imagine a bunch of Israeli kids at a pluralistic Jewish school, all under 12, dancing to hip hop/rap music while the n-word blares followed up by numerous f-bombs.  Having grown up in the the upper south (definitely not the deep south in America) and experienced busing and KKK rallies up close I can tell you that it disturbs me deeply when kids here throw around the n-word as if it were completely harmless.  When I was teaching English my first year here, I even had a high school senior call President Obama that.  I'm pretty sure that kid was well aware of the meaning.

Back on track.  I knew that the graduating class was going to present Fiddler on the Roof (in Hebrew of course) for their play.  This is de rigeur here that the class does some big production.  I was already disappointed about it because I wanted my daughter to have a bigger part given that I think she has an amazing singing voice.  She didn't want one however, since she hates to be in the spotlight and ended up being a cossack (my zayde would turn over in his grave) in the play.  I had conflicting feelings about that because I want her to be comfortable with who she is and to display her talent (I'm not the only one who thinks she has a good voice btw).  So there was that.

So there we were, sitting in graduation that didn't start until 7:45 pm and didn't really start until 8:15 pm.  Speeches, speeches and as I was sitting there trying to play Candy Crush on the sly (ok, so I wasn't living in the moment) I began to notice that my daughter was doing alot of talking to the young man sitting beside her. This was enthralling to me, I have to say at a certain point in the evening when the kids were doing gymnastics (seriously, they were) I thought they were even going to kiss!  She had already told me that her friends had accused her of liking this same kid and I think they were right.  So much you can discover about your kids when you are a fly on the wall looking in.

During Fiddler, I kept noticing that my entire wardrobe and clothes from my house were appearing as shtetl costumes.  This annoyed me because I don't remember being asked about it and given that my daughter is a walking tornado I worried about getting all of my stuff back.

She really did do a good job (yes, I watched and didn't play Candy Crush) and was even directing some of the other kids in where to go and what to do.  I liked seeing her take on that kind of responsibility because as a youngest child she rarely does it at home.

After Fiddler, just when you thought we were done, the kids came out and did the aforementioned gymnastic presentation to Gwen Stefani's "If I were a rich girl" song. I'll take the credit for that musical accompaniment because I suggested it to my kids who suggested it to her teacher.

All of the kids changed clothes for the circus part of the graduation and as I watched her on the stage, I noticed how much bigger not just in height but weight she is than most of the kids.  It bothered me.  It bothers me that she is overweight from a health perspecitive, my own guilt perspective and frustration on not being able to help her and frustration from her not being able to help herself.

Does it bother her?  I think so but I don't think it does all of the time.  She is not in tune with her body which is more mature than her actual age.  She is a lets go have fun kind of gal and the rest of the world can do whatever.  She isn't in to any of the preteen girl drama and just wants to be able to sing.

Well, this combination of clothes, weight and a ridiculously long graduation culminated in our screaming at each other when I went to find her after it was over.  Her father had left before it was over because he had to go work, her brother left as soon as it was over and I was the only one there to tell her how fabulous she was but instead it came out as "go get all of our clothes" in a snarky tone.  Honestly, at 11 pm, all I wanted to do was get out of there.

Did I mention that day was her birthday?  She had spent her entire birthday in rehearsals and then the entire night at graduation.  Our argument then progressed to "I saw you playing on your phone" and "my birthday sucked" and "you weren't paying attention" and "Abba just left" and even tears.

Not exactly how I had imagined the evening going.  I tried to dig myself out of the hole by telling her how proud I was of her and she was great but she was having none of my backtracking.  When the tears started to flow, she changed from being angry to wanting to be comforted and that is where I somewhat redeemed myself (that and taking her to have ice cream with her friends).

Truth was I was selfish.  I knew it would be long and in Hebrew and that I would hate it.  I had already chastised myself for days trying to prepare for it.  I can only hope that that the days that followed for her with a pool party, bat mitzvah party, birthday lunch in Tel Aviv and a movie can help her forget her mother's childish behavior.

To quote Tevye and Golda "Is this the little girl I carried?  Is this the little boy at play?  I don't remember growing older, when did they?"

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