• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Title

Friday Fragments

Milestones.

June 22, 2018
 
 

It was a week of milestones.

The Girl graduated the 8th grade, which was exciting enough on its own. It’s the end of middle school. Where we live, several middle schools feed into a regional high school, and students also have options of various specialized high schools, so the transition to high school is more than just everyone switching from one building to another. Everyone gets reshuffled. As easy as it is to be cynical about graduations from every little thing, I actually understand this one. Their worlds are about to change.

The ceremony was cute, as they tend to be. The 7th grade band did what it could with the graduation march. The designated student speakers, two of them, did very well; if you had told me they were graduating high school, I would have believed it.  The ceremony was relatively brief, and the parents were well-behaved. (Experienced parents know that the worst behavior offenders are usually other parents.)  But the highlight for me was the awards.

They gave out various subject awards, each to two students, except for math, which had four. The Girl was one of the winners for “best social studies student!”

She was happy, but I think I was more excited than she was. 

Her peer group did really well; we knew several of the awardees.  She’s hitting the age at which peers exert much more weight than parents do, so I’m glad to see that she’s choosing well.  Both kids have.

Earlier this year, TG got sideways with the acting principal.  TG was organizing a walkout against school shootings, and the principal was being, well, difficult.  During the graduation ceremony, when he spoke, he sort of acknowledged the conflict, and sort of admitted that she was right.  The look on her face was priceless. All of thirteen, she taught him a lesson about civics.

Her social studies teacher, who was also her debate coach, mentioned that he can see her making a difference in the world as she gets older.  I can, too.

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Not to be outdone, The Boy took and passed his driving test.  He’s licensed now.

New Jersey has some picky rules about driving tests.  You have to take the test in a car with the emergency brake located where the passenger can reach it.  Many cars have them to the left of the brake, so they’re ineligible to be used in the test. My car has it by the gearshift in the middle, so we were okay, but when we got there I noticed the half-dozen cars ahead of us were all rentals from driving schools.  That’s not cheap.

The rule would make sense if the test were conducted on actual roads, but it isn’t; it’s held in a standalone parking lot with orange cones.  I call “shenanigans” on this rule.

We had to wait in line while several cars took their turns.  As each car pulled up, a Dad got out and the tester got in. The Dads waited on the Island of Dads while their kids parallel parked and did K-turns.  At the appointed time, I took my spot on the Island of Dads and watched, hoping that all that parallel parking practice would pay off. It did.

I’ve read that Gen Z doesn’t care about driving, but TB very much does.  I didn’t realize how stressed TB was about the test until he passed it. He’s usually pretty even-keeled, but the combination of final exams and the driving test had him pretty tightly wound.  Seeing him bounce back to his original shape was gratifying.

When we went in to turn in the paperwork and get his official license, he registered to vote. 

Adding him to the insurance policy was a bit of a shock; I’m calling “shenanigans” on that, too.  But he’s legal, he’s mobile, he’s enfranchised, and he’s relieved. World, you’re on notice.

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For Father’s Day, I got a card full of “terrible Dad jokes.”

The tradition continues...

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