We’re nearing the end of June and parents everywhere are limping toward the finish line, arms full of smelly lunch kits, crumpled up pieces of loose leaf, and dried up markers with lids gone missing since March. It seems like only yesterday we were jockeying for shopping cart position in the school supply aisles, armed with our lists which demanded we buy ridiculous things like 24 pencils and 8 erasers. I haven’t gone through 8 erasers in my entire life. Yet can I ever find one single eraser left over from the previous year? No. All they bring home at the end of the year is a giant poster board from the science fair and a broken protractor.
Alas, the school supply lists will be no more. We are launching our youngest out of elementary school and into high school. City people do this with a very odd ritual indeed: Grade 8 Grad.
I don’t really understand how this is a thing. When I completed Grade 8 this is what went down...absolutely nothing. We clean out 9 months’ worth of garbage, 14 teaspoons and 3 overdue library books from our desks, and we were dismissed for the summer. When we returned in September we went to the same building, next classroom over, probably had the same teacher. See, celebrating that would just have been awkward for everyone.
They tell me Grade 8 grad is becoming like a mini Grade 12 grad, complete with girls getting their hair and nails done and wearing pouffy, uncomfortable gowns. My boy is completely unfettered by the pomp and circumstance of it all; he just knows he’ll have to comb his hair for sure that day. He claims none of the boys want to dress up and their Moms are all forcing them. He’s been through the Ecojustice program in Grade 8 and he’s much more comfortable in cargos and hiking boots than a shirt and tie. In fact, he’s of absolutely no help to me in trying to decide what to dress him in and neither is his father. I thought I’d send them out on a little father-son expedition to find something decent for him to wear that didn’t involve flannel. That was an error. Even though I delegated the task to them, I still had to quarterback the whole thing from home. Pictures and questions were sent via cellphone every 5 minutes.
“How is this shirt?”
“It looks too big.”
“It is too big but it’s the smallest one. He’s trying on a different colour now.”
“A different colour won’t make it fit, dear. I’m just saying.”
The shoe finding mission was no better.
“Where are you guys now?”
“We’re at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. He found a pair of shoes he really likes.”
“Awesome. Buy them.”
“Yeah, they’re steel-toe though. Is that okay? ”
I probably don’t need to tell you that they came home with absolutely nothing and guess who had to run out and take care of the whole kit and caboodle?? There are some golden rules that I follow, one being Never buy anything that needs ironing and two, Never Send a Man Shopping. Broke 'em both. I blame myself.
Congratulations to all the Grade 8s. I hope you enjoyed being king of the heap this year, and here’s hoping that your transition to big bad high school will be gentle. And to Dustin and Mel from the EcoJustice program, you do an amazing thing, keep on doing it! If anyone feels their child is a suitable candidate for this Saskatoon ecology/social justice based Grade 8 program, we highly recommend it. The Boy is all the better for having spent the year there.