My Son Wants No Part of Virtual Graduations or “Senior Adoptions” and That’s Okay

Congratulations graduates!!

Really, that’s all I have to offer right about now, even though my social media has been filled with suggestions of how I can celebrate my high school senior.

In the past three weeks I have been invited to sign multiple petitions protesting the virtual graduation planned by our local high school. Friends and neighbors want something “more special.” Some have suggested a postponement with the promise of a traditional ceremony at a later date (in July, or August…or even December). Others would prefer holding the ceremony as planned, while enforcing social distancing. Still others would like a drive-through graduation. The suggestions are endless.

We are all frustrated, especially my graduating senior. (Twenty20 @Kiyah.crittendon)

I have been invited to virtual graduations and to adopt a senior

Also, I have been inundated with requests to join a local group where neighbors are “adopting a senior.” Basically, you post a bunch of pictures and a brief overview of why your child is special. A member of the community then “adopts” your son or daughter and provides them with celebratory treats and gifts.

Finally, multiple Facebook groups have parents asking how they can “make up” for everything lost (proms, senior trips, award ceremonies and traditional graduations). Suggestions including lawn signs, door decorations and “shout-outs” in local media have all been shared.

To be honest, it’s a lot. And, while I appreciate that parents love these ideas, as do many kids, personally I just can’t buy into any of it. Part of my issue is clearly my child. My pragmatic son is not particularly sentimental when it comes to special occasions. Truth be told, he thinks graduations are boring. He’s not heartbroken about his being cancelled. That said, everything here isn’t sunshine and roses. He is frustrated with online schooling and bitter that he cannot spend time with his friends and his girlfriend. Actually, bitter is an understatement.

My son is not interested in being “adopted”

Recently, I put my own cynicism aside, and asked if he would like me to “put him up for adoption” on Facebook. He was horrified and replied that he did not want a stranger to bring him treats – it wasn’t going to make any of this better.

After a great deal of thought, I recognized that his disappointment goes far beyond “missing” special events; although that certainly is upsetting. Our kids (actually, all of us) have simply lost control. We can’t celebrate anything. We can’t go anywhere. We can’t even spend time with family and friends.

And, while we are still strongly hoping for an “in-person” fall college semester, that too is beyond our control. Our lives have been put on hold, but time continues to pass us by. We are all frustrated – especially my graduating senior.

Important disclaimer here, though. While I am frustrated with this pandemic, stir crazy inside my house, and concerned about my husband’s business as well as my children’s futures; I am less emotional than some. You see, in 1993 my husband evacuated the World Trade Center safely after a bombing. On September 11, 2001, two days after I learned I was pregnant with my son, he again came home from his office in Downtown NYC. And, on February 14, 2018, my children (and nieces) were thankfully physically unharmed when their high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was the site of a mass shooting.

So, the fact that my immediate and extended family and friends are safe and healthy is all I really need. I never lose sight of how grateful I am that my family is able to quarantine together. My frame of reference is simply different than some others.

Talk to your kids

That said, I too am so sad for our graduates. I wish that their world was better and that they had every opportunity to enjoy and celebrate this special time. So, if I can share one bit of advice (and honestly, I really don’t know that I’m any type of authority at all – I’m just as confused as the rest of us) it would be this. Talk to your kids. See what they want to do and which of the “social distancing” celebrations they think they would enjoy. Participate in those. Basically, give them back just a little bit of control. It’s really all we can do right now.

Wishing your 2020 graduates health and happiness…and better times ahead.

More to Read:

My Son Born After 9/11 Will Graduate in 2020: “A Hero’s Story”

Graduation Gifts for Your Teen’s Friends

Originally from New Jersey, Lori Wolk currently lives in South Florida with her husband Evan and their family. A freelance communications and marketing professional, she is also a mom to three children. LIndsay, 23, is a graduate of Vassar College and “lives” (pre-pandemic) in NYC where she works for Everytown for Gun Safety.  Abby will be a junior at Wesleyan University this fall and is a goalie on their Women’s Lacrosse Team.  Jason, her youngest,  is a member of the high school class of 2020 and is heading to George Washington University (where she and her husband are alumni) in the fall. 

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