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.