Sunday, 19 June 2011

The graduates

We've all graduated this week. Littleboy 2 from preschool, Littleboy 1 from kindergarten to First Grade. And The Doctor and I finally graduated to iPhones. What is more, we all managed to do this on the same day, which could be counted as something of an achievement.

First, a little explanation for British readers - everything is a graduation here. It's not only something that takes place after three years of college - every school year ends with a ceremonious celebration of some kind, a diploma on a certificate and even, in some cases, gowns and mortar boards. (Picnicking in Central Park yesterday, we saw lots of people wandering around in Harry Potter-style gowns and hats, celebrating graduations of some kind).

Last year I found all this slightly weird - this year, as with so many things, I rather loved it. Littleboy 1's ceremony was first, at 9am. The entire kindergarten year (100 odd children) piled onto the stage in the school auditorium and sang a medley of songs including It's a small word after all and What a wonderful world. First of all, they all trooped down the aisle accompanied by whoops and whistles from the parents (some of the children looked bemused, if not downright terrified, at this point). The performance then began with the pledge of allegiance to the US flag. ("Mummy", Littleboy 1 told me fiercely the night before, "You must stand for the pledge and put your hand on your heart.").

Midway through the performance, the most surprising thing of all occurred. The school principal got up and announced that instead of saying a few words, he was going to sing. Two older kids pitched up with instruments to accompany him. And he launched into song, Frank Sinatra style, with lyrics he'd written especially for the occasion. As he stood there and belted it out, with a brilliant voice, he went up several degrees in my estimation (and I suspect this was the case for most of the parents). The performance ended with the kids singing God Bless America - at which point I caught Littleboy 1 on the video camera singing with gusto about the mountains and the prairies. (Better teach him the lyrics to 'Jerusalem' pretty soon, I guess.)

After a brief appearance in his classroom (hundreds of grandparents and extended family enthusiastically taking pictures of the kids, everyone eating cupcakes and cookies), I legged it to the car and drove to Littleboy 2's preschool for the graduation show and picnic, making it there just in time to join The Doctor for the 10am kick off. Littleboy 2, in contrast to last year when he sat down and refused to sing, performed Octopus's Garden and other marine-related numbers with aplomb, dressed in the cutest octopus costume. As we waved goodbye to preschool for the last time (he starts big school in September), I felt pretty emotional, but he seemed to take it all in his stride (or perhaps didn't realise the significance of being hugged by his teachers for the last time).

Our third stop of the day was the local Apple Store. Yes, we had finally decided to upgrade our phones (mine was so old that the guy didn't even know what cable to use to transfer the data on it - from memory, it must date from about 2004). And we had taken the plunge and decided to join the Long Island masses with iPhones. We had always resisted temptation before; they are pretty expensive here, because you are tied into a 2 year contract. But here we are are, now happily playing with our brand new sleek white slabs of metal. For the first time ever, I have email on the go. I'll be able to read all my lovely blog comments, and comment on my favourite blogs, in the playground, at the beach, and while waiting for the boys to finish swimming/soccer/get off the bus. I guess I have graduated to the cult of Apple.

15 comments:

conuly said...

Not every school year. There's one when you move into middle school/junior high (the reason for two terms is because they refer to two different educational philosophies, but most people don't realize that, most school districts no longer realize that, and the words are mostly interchangeable), one when you go into high school (8th grade used to be the last year of education for many students, of course, about a hundred years ago), and one at the end of high school (same thing I said before, but make that fifty years ago). And after college, duh.

So not every year. Just the important ones, and the cute ones.

Liberty London Girl said...

Hi lovely

I was PAYG most of my time in the US cos of travelling, but was quite annoyed to only discover in my last yr in NY that you can sell on yr contract! Apologies if you already know this but there are websites where you can literally transfer the remainder of a 2 yr contract to another person. The same with auto leases...

LLGxx

Expat mum said...

I-Phones are fab but 1) take it out of your jeans pocket before you sit on the loo, 2) get a protective cover of some sort as they crack when you drop them. (Not that we have had any experience of that at all!)

We've just had the big graduation here (from high school) and when we walked home from the ceremony, the Queenager in her cap and gown, people in cars were beeping and giving her the thumbs up. It really was magical.

My mother likes to say that Americans celebrate when they go to the loo!

Home Office Mum said...

congrats to all on the various graduations. Note to self: I must graduate to a new phone soon too

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Well done LBs. I don't think I had annual graudations at school but I know I never had a singing principal, heheh. Enjoy the summer and your i-phones, I am jealous and need that upgrade too!

Metropolitan Mum said...

Wow, congratulations, I am so proud of you. Welcome to the good life. Waiting will never ever be boring again. Just make sure you download a few cool apps fir the unlikely event of Wifi free zones. *shudders*

TheMadHouse said...

Graduation is something that the UKL schools have taken from the US. Maxi graduated from Preschool last year and Mini will this year. It is a great time.

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

Well thats all changed then--I dont recall graduating from anything until Io left high school! Sounds like a natural progression of the American's innate sense of celebrating everything. Like Expat Mum's mum said.

I have an iPhone and it is LOVELY! Like Met Mum said though, download some apps that dont need Wifi so you can find entertainment/info when you're not 'in signal'. Oh and download some games because these are great for handing over during an especially wriggly, impatient moment (anything to buy a little time, sometimes!).

Culturally Discombobulated said...

I know you said you enjoyed it, but the principal singing a Rat Pack tune to his own lyrics sounds positively cringe-worthy.

Muddling Along said...

Welcome to the dark side of iphones - they are truely wonderful devices and sadly I cannot imagine being without mine (actually I can and it scares me...)

The graduations sound 'interesting' - does the fact you enjoyed them mean you are being assimilated

nappy valley girl said...

Conuly - thanks for the explanation. I know at the boys' school they do some kind of show every year, but maybe it's not 'graduation' as such.

LLG - thanks! yes, we are vaguely aware of that.....now staying another 2 yrs exactly, which is why we decided on the contract option, but it's useful to know you don't have to go with it.

Expat Mum - I will never put it in my jeans pocket! And I will get a case. At the moment I am treating it like a piece of porcelain.

HOM - do, it'll surprise you how much they have come on.....

Tanya - apparently he doesn't sing every year so we are very privileged....

MetMum - I'm still rejoicing at actually being able to do stuff with my phone at all - even in Wifi free zones!

Madhouse - interesting! didn't know that. Another tradition that has migrated across the Atlantic.

Michelloui - will do, although I'm not telling the boys I could get Angry Birds on the phone. Then I would probably never see it again....

CD - I know, it's one of those things that sounds appalling on paper - but, really, truly it wasn't. Somehow in America these over the top occasions seem really quite OK, if you just go with it and suspend the innate British cynicism for a while.....

Muddling - see above. A bit of both I think! (And it always helps when you have your own kids involved, you can't help but love their performances no matter what the occasion.)

About Last Weekend said...

Yes I have to say I couldn't believe how busy the end of year was when we arrived here nine years ago. I was exhausted by the time holidays came from the laughing crying, smiling, eating cake, taking pictures and hauling boatloads of effluvia home from the year. Must say though the Americans do it so well. My son won't let me get an iPhone as I'm so useless with technology. Fair enough, barely know how to dial my T Mobile.

Knackered Mother said...

Ha - love the phone/loo tip. I'm a Blackberry girl rather than iPhone but play with husband's Mac (that's not a euphamism) whenever I can.

ps - you've been tagged over at mine. Play if you can! x

mtff said...

In about 5 minutes you won't know how you LIVED without an iPhone. Apart from putting in reminders for just about everything, it's my number 1 CHILD SILENCER - when they're annoying in shops I just put on Netflix or a cartoon of something or other and magically they are quiet.
PS Let's start planning SF in Fall (unless you're already planning it and I'm just out the loop, perfectly possible)

Mwa said...

What a day!

Oh, and you got the iPhone 4, didn't you? I'm officially seething with jealousy.