give me your young…


Yesterday, the year 12s graduated. We had a grand ceremony, the last of many this week (academic awards, sports awards, graduation dinner etc. etc. etc.) with the entire school body and associated parents assembled.

For many of our students they are the first in their families to compete twelve years of schooling, so it really is a fine achievement. An even bigger achievement considering the messed up families some of them have had to battle. Even the cynical Flamingo Dancer was momentarily, and may I emphasise the word momentarily, overcome with a wave of good will to student kind. Luckily my natural instincts of callousness, sarcasm, and self centeredness soon regained their primacy. Some weaknesses must be carefully managed.

The student leaders stood in front of those assembled and declared this “is a moment I will never forget”. Yes you will, replied the voice in my head. If you drink as much alcohol as you say you plan to at schoolies next week, you won’t remember anything after Tuesday.

“I will remember you all, always!” You will forget their faces in five years, their names in 10. You will walk by them in the street and not recognise them, even when they say their names, in 15 years.

We will always be there for each other!” Oh no you won’t. Let some guy come between two of you and there will be claws at ten feet within minutes. And the boys will be too damn lazy to care about anyone. I myself could quite happily walk over the bodies of a couple of people I went to school with…I would even help them become bodies!

Then there was all the gushing about how much they loved the school, the wonderful times they had together, the memories, oh the memories. The nightmares you mean! One school leader apologised to her cohort for not always being very nice to everyone (cutting the weak from the herd, always a great quality in a leader, don’t you think?) Two boys delivering their farewell speech cried (good for them, I say!)

Then we led them triumphantly through a guard of honour to the front gate – a brilliant way to get them off the school grounds. They are deposited on the footpath, the gate closes behind them … and we go back to class.

Now, we are a lower-socio economic area, so what do they do to celebrate? Why they pile into cars and race up and down the street outside the school, honking horns and yelling. Yep. They hoon the school where we all know they fought hard to not attend every day of those five years we had them. Now we can’t get rid of them.

Eventually the smarter ones realise that everyone is in class and no one cares about “yesterday’s heroes” and so they disappear into the sunset. We start preparing the class of 2014. The assembly line goes on…


14 thoughts on “give me your young…

  1. Your posts are refreshing in a world filled with politically correct pretentiousness. Yeah, I always wondered if the teaching profession is really as romantic as it is made out to be. For that matter, I am pretty sure parenthood is nowhere as holy as it is described – half the time I want to devour my only born.


  2. I had to sigh and nod while reading this. During my son’s high school graduation—my third ceremony in attendance, so I was very jaded by that point—I listened to speech after speech about what a momentous occasion this was, and I thought, ‘No, it’s not. After this so many other things will happen that will screw up your life so horribly you will never be the same. You will make choices you’ll regret—marry the wrong person and have children by him that’ll force you to continue seeing him, long after you’ve been divorced; choose this high-paying career (at least that’s what your counselor and parents will tell you) and within 15 years you’ll be so sick of it, you’ll wonder whatever made you go into it. Or not—you’ll be happy to pillage your community of people’s homes and jobs with your executive position.’ I thought myself very mean that day, but at that point I was burned out on raising teenagers, on dealing with teenagers, and I was going through my own sorrows.

    My son says now he has no contact with any of his high school friends. I don’t think he’s sorry, either.


    • I know many that echo your son’s sentiments. The friend I spoke of (see comment below) fiercely said there was no one he wanted to see, when I was considering attending a 10 year reunion. Well, he had one exception, for one particular girl that dared to give him the time of day and show some kindness.

      But I refused to be cynical. I didn’t go, but a friend organized that reunion. I caught up with her last Christmas, if I remember right, at Wal-Mart. I said perhaps she didn’t recognize me, fat, crippled, and in a motorized cart, but she said my voice was the same. I sensed my change of appearance hadn’t affected our friendship at all.

      For sure, there are people from that time I’d rather forget. But my hometown area is still small, and I refuse to be cynical, still, and have a friendly greeting for those that were kind to me, in spite of all my strange and bizarre failings.


      • We didn’t live in a small town, though the suburb where my kids went to school often functioned like one. I used to run into the same people over and over again at certain stores and, of course, school. I thought it was ironic that it was always the people I didn’t like, rather than the ones I enjoyed seeing. Anyway, after high school, my son’s best friend joined the Navy, while my son took off for Evergreen State College. My son was already involved in environmental and social service causes, but after just a semester at the college, he became involved in the antiwar movement and working with the homeless. He came home for Christmas with a shaved head and dressed all in black. (I was surprised at no tattoos or piercings, but he says he dislikes needles.) At that time he and his high school friends got together for a night; apparently he and his best friend got into an argument about US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, while another friend expressed sympathy for the 1%, probably because he grew up among them. When my son got home, he said he was no longer hanging out with “those guys.” Shortly thereafter he deleted his Facebook account, and showed no interest in communicating with his friends during his visits back to Minnesota.

        His class has yet to throw a reunion, but I doubt he’ll attend. For one thing, none of us live in the area anymore, and he’d have to travel a long ways to attend a reunion. But all three of my children say they have nothing in common with most of the people they hung out with in high school. My older daughter still texts and emails her BFF from high school, but that’s about it. There was already a huge divide between us and the “normal” families in our town; physical distance and divergent experiences have not helped it. I’m also a little sick of being a “good sport” and forcing myself to endure events that I don’t enjoy. If people want to hold a reunion and have fun, that’s fine. But I have the right to say “no thanks” as well.


        • Understood. I think some people greatly misunderstand the full concept of the guest/host relationship, polluting it with insincerity for the sake of vanity.

          Yet I think many feel much the same as you and your family. Such are generally those that I deem my friends. (Yes, so that means you and yours.) I respect and honor your sentiments, for those that would guilt or shame otherwise are likely to be people I ignore, that I am not friends with. I also tend to think my situation has been exceptional– I don’t want that in any way to be a disregard of yours.


  3. I think what’s sad about this nonsense is that their hopes are set so high. Optimism can be a handicap in the real world. It’s a luxury usually reserved for middle aged comfortably off folk. These kids are shark bait for the beasts out there. Get ready for hard hard work for very little pay. Gird your loins for the boss who uses you until you leave only to be replaced by another bright eyed kid. Expect love to sour or at best become dulled by years of child rearing and life in general. The greatest gifts I could give to a 16 year old are cynicism and pessimism.
    Just saying.
    Not that this applies to me in any way.


    • I think you re right in many ways. Some stood and thanked their “special teacher” which to those in the know were often the worst teachers with the poorest results! I think they shouldn’t be allowed to be quite so personal – some things should be left for private moments.


  4. As the others said, I remember this.

    I also remember Baccalaurate. It was at the local “feel-good” church. I can still remember the old man that was the pastor at our time praying “bless them… that they might have fun.” Now, I had a high school buddy that poked fun at his smooth announcer voice, especially his “incredibly soft and deeply majestic” line in the ad for their local Living Nativity. But I simply thought a prayer of “have fun” wasn’t appropriate, at the time.

    Now I consider what you’ve said, FD, and think that maybe it was.


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