Spring has sprung, and if you're the mother of a high school senior, this is not necessarily a good thing.
Especially if you've done absolutely nothing yet to prepare for a graduation party. Like my friend, Tracy, whose oldest child is graduating and, compared to all of my other senior mom friends, is refreshingly zen about the whole thing.
When we asked her not long ago who was making her cake, she said, "Oh, should I be ordering that soon?" as the rest of us dropped our jaws, speechless. Because everyone knows that the cake is the star of the party.
Well, and your graduate too, I suppose.
I half expect to show up at her house on the day of her son's party, ring the doorbell, and have her answer with, "Oh, is that today?"
She'll be fine, I'm sure. As will I, especially since I'm getting plenty of guidance from my senior son, Alex
ME: So what photo do you want to use for your invitation?
HIM: I don't care.
ME: What food would you like to serve at your party?
HIM: I don't care.
ME: Fine, raw fish it is.
HIM: OK, OK! Hot wings then.
ME: Um, that's not really the kind of food I had in mind, but OK. What else?
HIM: I don't care. Wings and Mountain Dew sound good to me. Oh, and puppy chow.
ME: You realize this isn’t a Super Bowl party, don’t you? We’ll come back to food. What day would you like to have your party?
HIM: I don't care. Just pick one.
So I do. I pick the one date in May that works for our older three children, which is no easy task. I tell Alex it’s the same night as the school variety show, and he says that's fine. And then two weeks later, he says, "Wait, does that mean I can't be in the variety show?"
And yes, in case you’re wondering, he’s college-bound.
As May looms closer, friends are doing things like painting, gutting garages and potting flowers. The stress is starting to get to the best of us, like my friend Angie, who dreamt the other night that nobody came to her son's party. And then, in her dream, someone walked in carrying the stack of invitations she forgot to mail.
We don't have any major projects going on, unless you count adding a deck to the house. We tore our old one off three years ago when we did a house addition right before our last son graduated and have been deck-less since. Apparently we are incapable of doing any house projects without a graduation deadline looming.
Had I known how many more projects needed to be done around here, I definitely would’ve had about 17 more kids.
At least we were sensible and hired professionals to do the deck. My only job is to occasionally stick my head out the door and say, “Looking good!”
As it is, I have my hands full, including making photo boards and collecting certificates and medals from all corners of the house, so everyone can see what a prodigy my kid is, and I can remind myself that, despite the fact he still drinks chocolate milk with every meal and won't get rid of his Pokémon cards, he will probably do just fine in college.
With my oldest, our twins, I had finished three scrapbooks for each of them by graduation. With my next graduate, I did two. This time around I’ve done nothing, and I convinced myself this was fine.
Until the other night, when my husband caught me frantically cutting and pasting.
"I thought you said you weren't going to worry about a scrapbook, that no one really looks at them anyway," he said.
"I know," said. "But then I started thinking one day after I'm gone and the older three kids are looking through their scrapbooks I lovingly made for them and remembering what a great mom I was, Alex will have nothing and he'll think I didn't love him as much."
No one ever said the mom of a senior was sane. I have friends who have gone a little crazy for their graduate’s party, making miniature mortarboards out of Reece's peanut butter cups and wrapping individual chocolate pirouettes with ribbons to look like tiny diplomas. Another had a life-size caricature of their grad. Another friend did a video with his son's pictures so he progressed from baby to grad in seconds (both amazing and a little bit creepy).
The least I can do is throw together a lousy scrapbook.
On the bright side, all this busyness keeps the Senior Sadness at bay. Unless you make the mistake of pulling up some graduation party planning articles on the internet where some know-it-all will point out that, besides their wedding, this is the biggest party you will throw in your kid’s life.
No pressure there or anything.
Put another way, according to a different planner, the graduation party “doubles as a going away party, especially if your child is leaving for college.”
Say what? That does not sound very celebratory.
Then again, these are the same people suggesting on the day of the big event to “wake your graduate with breakfast in bed.”
Which contrasts starkly with my “get out of bed this minute and start hauling tables” approach.
Lest one thinks all this fun will soon be behind me, think again. Our youngest, our fifth, graduates next year. I find I’m losing steam. In fact, don’t be surprised if you come to my door the day of his party next year and I answer with, “Oh, is that today?
And really, who cares? As long as there’s cake.
Oh yes, and the graduate too, of course.
JoAnne Beiermann lives in Columbus. She and her husband have five children, ages 16-24.