Betty Kay Seibt, our resident Mimi is the proud parent of three children who have walked across stages at graduation and the proud grand-parent of a recent Kindergarten graduate.
The fact does not escape me that High School Graduation generally falls between Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. And it may be my own personal perspective, but I think that this is exactly as it should be.
Despite the fact that I grew up in the days when fatherhood was more of a figurehead position than a hands’-on one, my father was an active and engaged participant in both my education and that of my sister. My husband, too, was very hands’-on about his children’s schoolwork. He was the mastermind behind all the erupting volcanoes, sugar-cube castles, and rock-throwing trebuchets that our children presented for credit. He also solved the lunch crises—I am not now, nor never have been a morning person. Making lunches (and decisions about lunches) was not something I was cheerful about. If I had really been in charge, the peanut butter sandwich would have been IT. But Daddy stepped in and taught the kids to make their own lunches and set the rules (one dessert only).
My father never made a lunch—or a breakfast—but my sister ate breakfast every morning in his lap while my mother shoved her clothes and shoes on her. (I think my sister thought that if she didn't get dressed, she wouldn't have to go.)
What my mother and I both did was fetch and carry and get children out the door on time, clothed, and with the project de jour and/or the homework in hand. We drove the car to the school, entering the queue from the proper direction, dropped children off and did it all over again in the afternoon.
For part of my school experience, I was in a carpool. One mommy drove mornings, and one drove afternoons. My mother drove mornings, dropping my sister at the elementary school on the way to Junior High. My friend’s mom did afternoons because the schools got out at different times, and Mother was making the elementary school run.
My children rode the bus for several years, so I was spared morning drive time, but I still had to get them out the door. My youngest son had a deal with the bus driver. She honked as she passed our house on the way down the road. That gave him about three minutes to get out the door and to the end of the driveway before she came back around. God bless that woman for her patience—which made it possible for my son to arrive at school with all his important clothing and with brushed teeth!
I notice when I am at Springbok, that mothers and daddies share the dropping off and picking up, but I also notice that it’s mostly moms on Monday mornings. After all, on Monday, the nap mat has to get back to school, maybe the Show and Tell item—yup, that’s still Mommy territory.
Trite as it can sound, it does take a village to raise a child. Sometimes the villages are constructed out of friends and neighbors and “stand-in” grand-parents who step in to help out two-paycheck families; but no matter how you construct your village, raising children is labor-intensive and there’s a job for everyone who can lend a hand.
In the next week or so, all these “villages” will be coming together in some gymnasium, auditorium or football field to watch “their” child walk across a stage and receive a high school diploma. When we watch the principal or school board member hand our child that diploma, it seems impossible that the Pre-K “diploma” was so long ago—Really? Twelve years?—or that the college diploma is even possible. How will they make it to class unless I drive them? Unless they eat breakfast in Daddy’s lap? There’s no friendly college bus driver who will pamper him and get him there on time! How can he possibly go to college? But those are questions for another day.
Right now—in the space between celebrating mothers and celebrating fathers—we celebrate for a moment Parents and the villages they created to raise the next generation. Cheer for your kid and pat yourself on the back. You've earned it. You've gotten them this far and, as Dr. Seuss put it, from here on, “[they are the ones] who’ll decide where to go.”