Mr. Snarky graduated from college. Let me tell you, if you can arrange it, have your child graduate in the summer commencement. Parking was a cinch. There was no traffic. The restaurants surrounding the venue weren't even crowded. By comparison May and December are circuses. And I do not like circuses. But circus I will in December when our very own little Bossy will be getting her Masters.
Mr. Snarky walked because we made him. He would have been happier at the skatepark on Sunday, waiting for his diploma in the mail. His sister, whose favorite thing in life is graduating from things and being recognized as the over achiever she is, was in charge of making sure he didn't get away. Her husband was away on a camping trip so her brother spent the weekend with her at her downtown loft. On the phone she and I went over possible scenarios:
Me: He could go to a bar close by and watch the golf tournament. I can imagine him saying to us later, "What you didn't see me? They called my name and everything!"
Bossy: Oh, I hadn't thought of that. I'll make sure he gets there.
When we met up with her for the ceremony she told this story:
He was exhausting. He's upset about his birthday this week. Who gets depressed over birthdays and graduations? I finally told him he should leave so he could get his cap and gown and line up. He threw his arms up and said "What? I have to go EARLY?"
Luckily for all of us she has the nickname Bossy
for a reason. She's really good at making people do things. And this kid? She's been bossing this kid since day one.
My husband, daughter, and I arrived at the arena and started looking for his name in the program while we walked to our seats. We didn't see it. We looked again. We looked at each other.
"You don't think he..."
"I'll bet he didn't fill something out he needed to."
"Isn't that just like him!"
We continued flipping pages and running our fingers down the lists of names.
"He's not here."
We signed, exasperated.
My phone buzzed with a text.
"Just found out I got cum laude."
I held up my phone for them to see. "Look at this! Maybe his name is in a special section or something."
We looked again and there it was.
We all just laughed and laughed.
You see The Kid worked really hard at school and never missed a class unless he was very sick, and then he still e-mailed professors to let them know he'd be absent. Or unless his dad booked a cruise that overlapped the beginning of the semester. "You know I'm missing the first day of class." He would remind us while lounging by the pool. In an odd bit of role reversal we'd roll our eyes. Over a trip to the beach for fall break a couple of years ago we asked if he didn't want to go to the Flora-Bama with us. "Yeah, I really can't go out, I have to study for an Egyptology test." One semester he took 18 hours, held down 2 jobs, and coached his high school cross country team.
But while he's fierce about working hard and learning as much as possible the ceremony didn't excite him so much. "Can't they just mail it to me?" he ventured a few weeks ago.
"And break your sister's heart? No."
As soon as the ceremony ended my daughter and I started texting him to say "DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR CAP AND GOWN, we want pictures!"
The reply came back. "Too late."
When we found him near the front entrance we all expressed our disappointment. "Yeah, we had to turn them in." He told us with a twinkle in his eye, while looking around at the 50 or so graduates in caps and gowns having pictures made with proud families. And what had he worn under his gown? The same soccer shirt he'd worn to breakfast with his sister at the Arcade. Here's the pic she had to settle for.
We laughed because, well...that is just so him.
And him just being him is what we all love most about him. He's just his own man and that's perfectly okay because he's so awesome at being himself that all we can do is laugh. When he was 3 we were in a bookstore and I said "Jared, it's time to go." The kid he'd been playing with looked at me and said "Jared? He told me his name was Picasso!" He's always been marching to the beat of a drum no one else could hear. So in a couple of weeks he leaves for Arizona for six months to volunteer with the American Conservation Experience. An adventure that he is hoping will be a first step in saving the planet, defending animals, and living out his own version of success that is likely to be just a little bit different than the standard version.
Who wants to be the standard version of anything anyway?