As you may recall, The Pony will graduate on Sunday.
Keeping with Newmentia tradition, the faculty will dress in long black robes (with winged sleeves if a Master's Degree is held by the robee) and march in double file behind the graduates. They sit behind the podium, surveying their kingdom and the fruits of their labors over the past four years.
It's the best seat in the house, but to get to it, you have to stand in the hot hallway for 30 minutes, navigate the bottleneck of the stairway, risk tripping in front of a standing-room-only crowd, and forego hearing any of the speeches or seeing the slide show of graduates' drape picture paired with baby picture. Unless you have superhuman hearing that can ungarble the poor acoustics afforded the best seat in the house, or are far-sighted. Oh, and as soon as the tassels are turned, you need to beat feet out of that gymnasium before the Silly String overtakes you.
This is the worst part of the Newmentia faculty duties. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not fond of crowds. Every year, she starts stressing over the graduation ceremony around about the first snow day. There IS no way out. Except that year Pinky was allowed to skip to attend her nephew's graduation. Oh, and that time of Mrs. HM's unfortunate hospitalization with bilateral pulmonary embolisms.
I sat with the black robes during the #1 son's graduation, hearing not a word of his valedictory speech. I think it went over well. The audience chuckled several times. I felt cheated (or as my politically incorrect mother would say, gypped) by missing out on this milestone in my oldest son's life. He would not even let me read his speech, before or after.
The Pony is also giving the valedictory speech. He DID let me read it before he turned it in to the principal. Which does not mean I am willing to sit behind him throughout the ceremony and hear it garbled. I asked way back when to be relieved of my robe-walking duties. "Can't I just be a parent and sit in the audience?" I don't think that was too much to ask. If The Pony attended school in the district where the Mansion is located, I would have most certainly been excused from Newmentia to attend The Pony's big night, if they fell on the same date. The response I got was not encouraging. "Go ahead and confirm your robe and hood. We have to submit the order tomorrow."
Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not like to make waves. She would sooner sit in the boys' athletic locker room with a passel of freshmen for four hours during a tornado drill than deviate from the chain of command. So the buck stopped there. As you can imagine, this upcoming graduation ceremony has been weighing heavily on her mind.
This afternoon, the faculty was summoned (twice) on all-call to report to the gym after school for a meeting. The meeting in which we receive our walking partners, which usually stays the same, due to practically non-existent faculty turnover. Like a good soldier, Mrs. HM hoofed it down those steps to stand in limbo, halfway to the podium, halfway from the steps, to see where we were going to line up.
Mr. Principal descended to our level, saw Mrs. HM, and said, "Oh. I meant to call you to say you didn't have to come down here. You can sit in the audience. I don't even have you on my list. I try to make everyone happy."
People! You have no idea how much this meant to me! I am in tears even now. Tears of joy. Sure, they're about my 10th set tears today, The Pony's last official day of school. But that doesn't decrease their salinity one bit. I'm FREE! Free from worry about that ceremony. I can sit in the crowd with Farmer H, and watch our little baby graduate.
On the way home, all alone because The Pony drove today, knowing he was being let out before lunch, I was reveling in my good fortune. I took the lake road, just because I like it. And just after I passed the lake, coasting at 30 mph (the legal speed limit) along the wide street of old, rich-people houses where we used to take our boys trick-or-treating...I imagined myself sitting in the audience, pleased as punch as my little Pony gave his speech. And a song came on the radio. "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." The same song The Pony and I heard on the way to our writer's conference last July.
Yeah. That was my ninth set of tears.