Arlene Green

Arlene Green
Clearlake, California, USA
January 08
Geek girl, mother of more children than human beings should be allowed, owner of a snake named Plissken, several dogs, a plethora of cats, easily annoyed, easily overjoyed, will work for books.


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JUNE 8, 2008 5:52PM

Graduation Season

Rate: 5 Flag



It is graduation season again. I hate graduation season. It is an excuse for administrators, without any public speaking talent whasoever, to assemble a captive audience and bore us all to tears with motivational and inspirational speechifying.

It wouldn't be so bad if it were like it was when I was a kid and you had highschool graduations and college graduations. Some places had kindergarten graduation but where I was we didn't even have kindergarten. Now kids graduate from everything. Pre-school, kindergarten, gradeschool, junior high, highschool. If things don't change they are going to start holding ceremonies, complete with pointless awards and boring speeches, for each grade. I know it.

I don't have a graduation for one of mine this year. Which is some sort of minor miracle. Next week I have to attend one for a friend's kid, but as it is a highschool graduation I will try to be gracious about the whole thing and hold my peanut gallery comments down to a dull roar during the speech. If they try to show me a video, all bets are off, however. I already went to one of those this year for my husband's nephew and it was painful. No one should be forced to applaud badly edited slide-shows with pop music playing in the background.

I did my time as a parent at an 8th grade graduation last year. I deserve a break after suffering through that tribute to overblown sentimentality. You will agree with me when you are done reading this.

Schuyler attended a charter school that has campuses in several counties so his 8th grade graduation took place in an auditorium at Sonoma State University. There were a lot of people there.

The woman who gave the speech for the graduation was a Lifetime Television for Women victim/poster child. They always are. Her speech was about having a dream and following through on your dream even in the face of adversity. She gave examples that mostly involved people who came from poverty stricken circumstances. I'm sure she thought it was very moving.

Okay, so this is the kind of schlock that you tend to hear at these things regardless of speaker or age of the graduates. But given that we are talking about a group of 8th graders whose parents are definitely in a higher income bracket this speech was particularly irrelevant to the audience and the 8th graders in question.

My eyeballs would have rolled right out of their sockets and bounced down the steps toward the stage if such a thing were physically possible.

The speech was bad enough, but this woman had gone to the horrifying business meeting school of speeches and accompanied her message with a Power Point presentation. Nothing is improved with a Power Point presentation.

Just when I think she is done, that the madness is about to end, she announces that she is going to show us a video. The video was about a man who finished the Iron Man event who also had CP. Well, great, kudos to the guy. I might even watch this at home. But this video has nothing to do with or any relevance whatsoever to a bunch of 14 year olds entering the 9th grade next year.

I slumped down in my seat muttering and my husband gave me a warning look. I perked up when, alas, the video would not play on the screen. She called for volunteers from the audience to help her "triumph against this adversity with teamwork". She used those exact words.

Some of you reading know that I could fix this. I can figure out this kind of glitch in my sleep. But I didn't want to. It was much more amusing for me to watch the guys -- and they were all guys, no women, because there is something about a penis that makes guys think think they can fix shit even if they have no clue where to begin -- go down there and do things like try to fix it by resizing the the window. Besides, I didn't want to watch the video. Her speech was schmaltz enough for me.

While I was busy being thoroughly amused by the creative ways to fail to fix the problem the volunteers were discovering, my child Pierce pipes up in that voice that children use that carries to the moon, "My Mom can fix it! She went to college for computers. She can fix anything!"

The sound of every neck turning and heads craning to look in my general direction was loud.

So guess what I did? I mean, you can't disappoint your child. Even if he is a little shit for blowing your cover and you didn't want to watch the damn inspirational video anyway.

The children are under strict instructions this season to keep their mouths shut about any talent mom has that could be utilized by the people throwing the graduation. Hopefully this year will not be as schlocky as last year, but I doubt it.


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very funny! much better than neal pollack.
Thank you! Since humor is the idea, it is good to see that it actually turned out funny. I never can tell.
Great post, really funny. "Nothing is improved with a Power Point presentation." - Truer words were never spoken. Don't you just effin' hate it that we all know what Power Point even IS? Why has there been no pretender to the presentation software throne?

Your description of the speech was so vivid I am still feeling the "Eeeeew" all over my body.
I think I may have gone independent just so I could avoid most Power Point madness. When you are the contractor you don't get roped into most of those. Unless you are the one giving them. I never do and I've never had a complaint yet about it.

The speech really was awful. The memory still make me vaguely fardo-ish.
That was a funny post!

My twin sons graduated from 8th grade this year and the ceremony was sooo bad. In addition to the "inspirational speeches" you mentioned, they actually had 4, count them 4, wanna be/ soon to be 8th grade girls sing Karaoke pop songs. It went on for hours and took all I had not to slip out and get a six pack.

Just when I thought I was over it...you helped me relive it. Thanks
Very funny. Great illustration, too. You might want to use it in a Power Point some day...
Upon further reflection I give the girls credit for getting up there and singing in front of their peers. That took some guts. It was the whole program that was horrible.

Arlene, getting "ratted" out like that must have been fun.
As someone who got kicked out of a choir you didn't even have to try out for...yup, they deserve a little credit. But still, karaoke. On its own? Not a problem. Coupled with the rest of it? Icing on the cake.

Yes, making my way down to the front and knowing that everyone was waiting to see if my son was right was fun. No pressure there at all. Also trying to figure out how to answer when the speech woman asked me "Why didn't you come down here when I asked?" was a laugh riot. I would have said I was shy...but she would have seen that for the lie it was since she'd run into my other places. I was reduced to grunting at her.
What David said. Thank the Lord I had a squirmy toddler so had an excuse to walk around outside where I found other eye-rolling parents and grandparents (does this mean I am going to have to do this for a whole other generation?!). I think I need to form a new group of parents/grandparents: "Down With Sap!" No magnetic ribbon mock-ups though, pullease!
Great post Arlene.

Oh how I hate the multiplication of graduations. I think it's a byproduct of the education paradigm that insists that every child shall be as every other child. There should be two graduations: High School and College. Undergraduate College, if you get a Masters or Doctorate, tell them to mail it to you. Two graduations. Two.

The speaker you had to endure is probably the product of teacher in-service training. You didn't mention it, but it sounds like she is an administrative educator, holding workshops for teachers to help them be better teachers, as long as they become the teacher she envisions.

Trust me--sadly, I know what I'm talking about.
My dear Madame Green ~

A most amusing recollection! Being somewhat light on my feet, I privately dream of the day when interpretive dance is the acceptable form for illustrating one's public oratory.
Great post. My daughter's graduation was a nightmare. It rained and the 35,000 dollar a year college was too cheap to get a tent. We sat soaking for hours listening to some woman barking about the future and hope and new beginnings. (one excellent new beginning would have been an umbrella business). I have to say, though, that Vermont College MFA in writing graduations are actually fun. ... and short. They read a few sentences from each graduate's work (Some hair tearing there: choose your best four consecutive sentences!) and quote some of the scathing professorial comments("What happened to our story?" "I love the first pargraph. Cut the rest of it.") Then they hand out the paper and you get to drink cheap champagne and go home. A model all others should follow.
I may have to borrow a squirmy toddler for next time. And I'll join Down With Sap.


Yup, she was one of those. Administrators seem to come in two flavors these days, that kind and the kind that really would be good at it but their hands are tied by top-heavy school districts where you get politicians making educational decisions based on some kind of sales pitch. Mathlands, anyone? You didn't happen to be a teacher did you? You sound like you were.


The Vermont College MFA graduation sounds ideal. Entertaining even. Sadly, I don't think it will ever catch on. Sigh.

M. Chariot-

I'm sure that your interpretive would be amusing, but try not to start a trend with it, okay? I doubt most could pull it off.
I didn't go to my own college graduation.

The worst one in my memory was when, as a 7th grader, I had to play clarinet in the band for the 8th Grade graduation. Pomp and Circumstance, maybe seven hundred times in a row. I believe I blew out my lip in the same way and athlete blows out an ACL.
"Triumph against this adversity with teamwork"

My new favorite quote! I'm going to start using it around the home and see who gets sick of it first, my daughter, my wife, or some innocent guest.
Love it! You made me laugh and roll My eyes just picturing yours rolling down the steps. Not to mention kids who haven't been trained in the Don't Ever Volunteer Mom for Anything" school of thought. Glad they know it now.
Thanks guys.

I couldn't get out of my graduation. I was one of the people speaking. I fantasized about ditching, though.

Stella, thanks for the bribery idea. I'd never considered that, but it just might work.
My favorite part is that your child worships you - "She can fix anything!"

And, I don't have kids and I did attend two of my three graduations (HS and undergrad - chose the mail option for the MPA). But it does seem like they've gotten out of hand. My friend went to a PRESCHOOL GRADUATION for her son the other day. WTF?

I guess what bothers me about even the "pomp and circumstance" of a high school graduation is...well, isn't that what you're SUPPOSED TO DO? Finish high school? I mean, that's kind of your job. And then, when parents/administrators/Hallmark makes a big deal about every single grade transition, isn't that saying that our society's expectations of children are significantly lower than they used to be? And aren't you setting up a generation of kids who will expect a damn cake and a bonus when they enter the workforce and complete...well, a damn PowerPoint?

Anyway, great story Arlene - nice to know the cool moms are here!