Everything feels different without this ritual
It’s entirely possible that you’re not as crazy and neurotic as I am – for your sake and the sake of the wider world, I certainly hope so – but when deciding on a name for my children, I absolutely imagined it being read aloud by someone while “Pomp and Circumstance” played. The first name is the one everyone will use, and the last name is the one you’re pretty much stuck with, but when it comes to someone announcing it (or yelling it at your child when mad), the middle name comes into play and is vitally important to the rhythm and mouthfeel of the overall gravitas of the name.
If my firstborn had been a boy, we were exploring names like “Trevor Scott Crawford,” and Georgia would have been “Edward Scott Peyton.” (Scott was my late brother’s name, so it was important to incorporate if I had had a boy.) Once I found out I was having daughters, the conversation narrowed to either Ruby Grace Crawford or Ruby Eden Crawford for my older kid and Georgia Ruth Peyton, Clara Ruth Peyton, or Elinor Ruth Peyton for the younger one (Ruby being the non-negotiable name for my first daughter and Ruth being the non-negotiable name for my second daughter, both based on names of loved ones). For Ruby, the decision truly came down to my preference for the 2-1-2 syllable combination when imagining someone announcing it. (For Georgia, all of our possibilities were already 2-1-2, so it was that my husband and I couldn’t agree on the spelling of Elinor vs. Eleanor and didn’t like CRP as initials.)
All of this is to say that I am quite certain that no parent of a 2020 graduate expected their kid’s graduation to go this way – and that it can be something parents think of WAYYYYY before the fact. Graduation is an undeniable milestone. My stepson is, obviously, not my biological son. I didn’t name him (although I love his name). But when started high school four years ago, I definitely imagined his name being read aloud when he accepted his diploma.
As we move into June with no certainty as to how graduations will proceed this year, I think it’s fair and valid to mourn the loss of this largely predictable ritual that has now been completely upended.
Yes, CLEARLY there are larger problems right now. The entire world seems full of chaos and grief and fear and danger. I guess it always has been.
That’s kind of the problem: It feels so hopeless right now, and graduations are pure hope, hope distilled into a three-hour ceremony and set to music. We need graduations right now, more than ever, and we can’t have them.
But the Class of 2020 is moving on anyway, and even without a formal ceremony, I can almost summon up some hope when I think of the seniors I’ve gotten to know – my stepson and his friends and also the kids I work with at Franklin.
I hope these kids are going to change the world. Someone certainly needs to.