They like to move and groove

By Mir
May 19, 2009

It came as a total shock to me, yesterday, when we filed into the school for Chickadee’s “moving on ceremony” and I found myself tearing up a little.

I am not a terribly sentimental person under the best of circumstances. And as we already know, Monkey’s moving on ceremony didn’t exactly set me up to expect great things. But MAN OH MAN they put on the Ritz for the fifth graders, and it was impossible to stand there and not think about how my firstborn—who was once a baby with bright blue eyes and a cloud of hair standing up every which way with static—is now a young lady with piercing hazel eyes and a carefully arranged coif (“Mom! STOP TOUCHING MY HAIR!”), who is headed off to middle school next year.

My baby is in striking distance to teendom, and it’s both weird and wonderful. Also, it makes my eyes leak. Particularly when you play “Pomp and Circumstance” while making the kids file in two by two.

Otto was there with his big lens (oh, baby), and so Chickadee did her best to duck her head and look as annoyed as possible. Not that this stopped Otto from shooting a million and one pictures. (I, for one, am very much looking forward to sharing them with her prom date in a few years.) And of course my parents smiled and waved while she completely ignored us, because we’re all completely embarrassing, dontchaknow.

There were weighty-sounding speechlets (they cannot possibly be called actual speeches, abbreviated as they were) and the kids sang a couple of songs (Lean on Me! Tears!!) and then the conferring of Moving On Certificates began in earnest.

The principal called all the names, and listed off the included honors for each student. The kids were all receiving manila folders (fancy!) containing a moving on certificate and then whatever else they might be receiving. And they pretty much got certificates for EVERYTHING they had EVER participated in, which meant that even the kids who had been scraping by got certificates for 4H (welcome to the boonies, where 4H is a required class) and D.A.R.E. (just say no to drugs, and gimme my certificate). Kids like Chickadee and her friends all ended up getting over ten different “awards.”

[Aside: I was emailing with Chris yesterday after the ceremony and mentioned that Chickadee had gotten fifteen awards (when explaining why the ceremony was so long). Chris responded with “Fifteen seems a little excessive.” Gee, YA THINK? I toyed with mailing back that I was offended that she did not sense the EXTRA SUPER SPECIALNESS of MAH PRESHUS GENIUSBABY, but decided I couldn’t even type that with a straight face and let it go.]

We sat and listened and clapped and I’d be lying if I told you that it didn’t please me just a TEENY bit that the principal had to stop and gulp some extra air while getting through Chickadee’s list of honors (MAH PRESHUS!), bogus though many of them may be, and when it was (finally) all over, we went to the reception, where our darling children were being stuffed full of cake and lemonade.

All around us, parents and children were hugging, and we… couldn’t find Chickadee. Or Pixie (her BFF). After some searching, we found them huddled over their folders in a classroom, comparing their certificates and laughing hysterically.

“I got FIFTEEN certificates!” bellowed Chickie, waving them in our general direction, once she noticed us.

“I got SIXTEEN!” joined Pixie, and then both girls dissolved in giggles again.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Her sixteenth one doesn’t COUNT,” Chickadee told me, between giggles. “She got one for being part of the SuperFly Dancers*—” and then she couldn’t continue, because they were laughing too hard.

SuperFly Dancers is kind of a big deal at this school, but it’s also, um, not something that many of the better students are involved with as a general rule. “I didn’t know Pixie did SuperFly Dancers,” I mused, and this prompted fresh gales from the girls, who were now staggering against each other for support.

“I DON’T!” squealed Pixie.

Oh. Whoops! So, yeah, maybe a little excessive when you start giving out awards to kids who haven’t even participated in said activities.

[The best part is that Otto was snapping away when Pixie went up to be recognized, and we were sitting far enough back that I hadn’t been able to see this, at the time, but his pictures tell a MARVELOUS story: The principal is reading off her accomplishments and she’s standing there, neutral. Then he says “SuperFly Dancers” and Pixie’s face changes, just a little, to mild surprise. BUT, off to the side, Pixie’s teacher’s face goes through a hilarious set of contortions as you go through Otto’s pictures—you can actually watch his eyebrows go up, up, UP with confusion. I sent the pictures to Pixie’s mom and she mailed back, “Yes, I guess he was just as surprised as we were!”]

Swan wandered past and I gave her a hug and wished her hearty congratulations. “How many awards did you get?” demanded Chickadee.

“Seventeen,” said Swan, mildly, before meandering off again, one presumes to eat some more cake and ignore her parents.

I looked for Nightingale and gave her a big hug. She’s back to school and in good health (so far), and the girls really haven’t been able to repair their friendship, which saddens me, but I was happy to see her there and told her so. Her mother had brought her a large bouquet of flowers, and Nightingale plucked one from the bunch and gave it to Chickadee. She accepted it with a smile. I hope this is what Chickadee remembers, years from now, and not the months where the two were up and down and back and forth and made me really understand the term “frenemies.”

In a day and a half, my daughter will be done with elementary school. For various reasons, only a few of her friends will be going on with her to her middle school, next year. Nightingale will be attending a different public school; Swan is going to private school; things are changing in more ways than one. I doubt she’ll even find herself with a folder of fifteen awards again, though who knows. Yesterday she was too busy with her cake and her friends and her plans to pay much attention to me or her grandparents, and I saw that closer-than-I-think future where I’m a fixture on the periphery, rather than part of her main landscape.

They are indeed moving on. So maybe I get a little teary. In a good way.

When it gets too overwhelming, I think about Pixie—geeky little Pixie, who along with my daughter acted like she’d won the lottery when they both won scientific calculators at a math competition earlier this year—and her SuperFly Dancers certificate. It’s hard not to smile, then.

*It’s not really called the SuperFly Dancers, I swear.


  1. Tammy

    Oooh, I want to be a “SuperFly Dancer” too! ;) Congrats to Chickadee!

  2. Aubri

    You’re such an awesome Mama! :-) And the SuperFly Dancers Certificate, along with Pixie’s teacher’s reaction? Priceless…

  3. Julie

    Just finished with 6th grade honors day here across town, and it doesn’t get any easier with the tear-leaking thing. From first day of 6th grade to today, they sure did grow up a lot. The hugs are not so public any more, but he still managed to whisper “Mama, I love you more than anything.”

  4. Jean

    Mir, this makes me tear up too! My little guy is graduating preschool in a few weeks. I feel like I’m sending him out into the big world next year. Sniff*

  5. Megan

    I am so damn OLD.* Child 2 graduated-graduated, the big one (well, the first big one), the one where you have to be a sort-of-kind-of grown up at the end of it. And when told I would be out of town when it had to leave for a fairly major event it shrugged its shoulders and said, “well Mum, have to cut that umbilical cord some time” and I’m pretty sure it was talking about me, not it. Darn Children and their darn habit of darn it growing up and getting wonderful. And independent.

    *Also I started so ridiculously YOUNG. Just so it’s clear I’m old, but not THAT old. Well, sort of…

  6. Katie in MA

    I can’t believe how much she has grown up, even just the little we’ve seen through your bloggy windows. She is going to be such a bright, funny, *wonderful* force to be reckoned with!

  7. Rosie

    Okay, so I understand that they might not want to use the weighty wording of Graduation or Commencement. I guess. But isn’t “Moving On Ceremony” a little TOO casual? How about “Get Outta Heah Already”? Moving On always gets me singing the Jefferson’s theme song.

  8. liz

    My PRESHUS BAYBEE turned five last Wednesday and graduated from pre-k on Thursday, complete with “Pomp and Circumstance” and cap and gown. Luckily for me, though, I’m hoping I can get double use out of the cap and gown as his Halloween costume in a few months.

  9. Lori

    I remember my elementary school moving on ceremony in amazing clarity considering the balance of those years are predominately a blur. It was light on pomp & circumstance and heavy on fun. The teachers predicted our futures by telling stories which wove in our present accomplishments. I was predicted to be the First Female President of the United States. Which sounds very impressive except I really think it was just a nice way of saying I was bossy.

    Good times…good times.

  10. Heather

    I love how Nightingale gave her the flower…made my heart grow, like, three sizes :P

  11. Alison

    Congratulations to Chickadee and you (for getting her this far!) My daughter is “graduating” from kindergarten today…like you, I’m not normally sentimental, but this MAY be an exception.

  12. Tracy

    It makes me so sad to think that she will be losing some dear and true friends but I know that she’ll have NO problems gaining new ones. Congrats, Chickie! You have made us all so proud!

  13. Kelly

    Congrats to Chickadee!

  14. BethR

    If it’s going to be a “Moving On Ceremony,” I think everyone should get certificates for the Superfly Dancers – it just fits somehow :-)

  15. Julie Stiles Mills

    We did an 8th Grade Banquet last night and I was surprised at my watery eyes.

    But is it bad that I have, for years, bribed my children to get out of going to the elementary “Award Ceremony?” They have always been happier (as have I) when I buy them something instead of sit on gymnasium bleachers with them for more than two hours. I figure my time is worth about $10 an hour, so a $20 “end of the year” present is SO much better than a backache and hours of bad jokes and condescending winking from the elementary school principal.

    The just mail us the “awards.”

  16. Nancy R

    Last year, our school gave out the ‘usual’ awards, and then a comprehensive sort of award to any kids who were involved in three or more things (this included Pizza Hut’s Book-it program). Included in the list of things my oldest daughter had participated in was ‘chess club’, which she had nothing to do with – but could have…AND, boys basketball. I was all “DUDE! When did you have time to practice that without us knowing?!”

    She, of course, was mortified.

  17. TC

    My kid’ll be graduating from sixth grade and moving to middle school, though our ceremony is next month. Best I know, she’ll be getting nothing more than a single graduation certificate. Somehow, I feel…gypped. I might have to trade her in for a more award-winning model.

    (I KID! I KID! And I’m going to cry my eyes out, I know it.)

  18. Annette

    Chris will unserstand the “system” better after her first year of the school “experience”

    Today I was on a field trip and these kids were all being really good. When we returned thay asked what they would get for being so good. I said, ” You DON”T get in trouble”

    What? We all now need to be rewarded for doing what we are supposed to?

  19. Steph

    I’m going to be a braggy pants, and say that she might just bring home 15 certificates again, my sister (high school grad this year) just brought home $13,000 in scholarships! So proud!

  20. Stephanie

    Oh gawd! This makes ME cry, and MY baby still has TWO years of elementary school left!

    I really wish we could climb into a “time stopper” and I could just enjoy her like this for a while longer.

    They grow up TOO quickly!

    Congrats to Chickadee, Monkey, and you & Otto for making it through another wonderful year.

  21. Sheila

    But it totally SHOULD be called the SuperFly Dancers. Because fifth grade is just that badass.

  22. Patrick

    OMG! I agree!

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest