24 Mar

I was watching Beverly Hills, 90210 earlier. (I do that-I have a weird nostalgia for early 90’s TV.) It was their graduation episode, which of course was full of maudlin moments and flashbacks.

It got me thinking.

When I was 18, my father likely watched me walk out the door at night, thinking how I have so many new experiences to look forward to, how the world was waiting for me, as he went back to watching bad made for TV movies. He saw my graduation as a beginning, the start of my real life maybe.

I didn’t. I was a pain in the ass before and during my grad, because I was completely emotionally mixed up. I was graduating with a class I didn’t really go to school with, since I had switched schools a bit. I missed my mother terribly, and had to deal with integrating my biological family into this that year.

I hated polyester, and especially hated having to spend money I really didn’t have on renting a gown I HAD to wear. I remember having very loud conversations about that. I didn’t have the money for graduation photos, or yearbooks or rings. Stuff many students take for granted, I couldn’t get. So I pretended, very well, that I didn’t care.

I cared though. It was that time in your life that was meant to be transformative, special, meaningful. I wanted something meaningful in my life, other than something painful. But it wasn’t to be. I saw it for something hollow.

I muttered as much to my father as the end scenes rolled, how I couldn’t wait to be out of high school, and on with my life, and how we didn’t sit there holding eachother’s hands smiling. I don’t much remember what we did after grad. From the group of friends I had, I was the only one graduating Grade 13-everyone else I knew had another year to go. So I was leaving everything I was familiar with behind, instead of us all leaving together.

And I was in love. So I was a little, confused about where my life was going.

The show tonight, the cultural impression of graduation is one of closure and beginnings, of surety, or direction and decisions. I never had that experience-I had multiple decisions to make in one summer-what university I wanted to go to, where I wanted to spend the summer, where my heart was taking me. I was also mourning the true, offical end of my childhood, and I was mourning it hard, but in quiet.

I was nothing sure. But I felt melancholy for high school as soon as it ended, even as I do now. I feel nostalgic only for that sense of freedom, the ability to do anything, at anytime that I had. But that is precisely what scares me about having daughters who are teenagers. I don’t know anything about mothering teenage girls, but I certainly remember what it’s like to BE a teenage girl. While I love and cherish many of my experiences, do I want them for my daughters? Do I want them to sit in a park with a friend and smoke pot all night when everyone else is at the prom?

No-I want them to have the frilliest, prettiest dresses they’ve ever seen-the one thing I never dared to have, or ask for. I want them to enjoy their years as teenagers, which I, in some ways, never could. I want them to watch 90210 and really get what’s being said.

(and OMFG! Their graduation was 1993! Am I THAT old?!?!?)

10 Responses to “”

  1. Nat March 24, 2007 at 11:31 pm #

    I think that’s human nature. “To want for your kids what you couldn’t have” I know I’m the same way.

    And I think if I had to re-do my grad year, I’d do it differently too. (Even though my prom was lame and pointless)

  2. Kimberly March 25, 2007 at 9:03 am #

    “Donna Martin Graduates!”

    I didn’t go to the prom that year either, Thor, and I really don’t regret it. Hundreds of dollars to go to a fancy party with a bunch of people I didn’t like and couldn’t wait to get away from? When I could’ve been at the bar with The Boy instead? No brainer. Of course, I did have the loverly princess dress experience the year before, so I knew what it was all about and really didn’t feel like I was missing something.

    I’m glad you’re thinking about parenting your daughters past the age where you lost your mother, and the implications of working without a roadmap in those years, but please don’t fall into the trap my own mother did. I am the daughter of a motherless woman, and it’s a lot of pressure, living up to her expectations of how it should have been.

  3. bine March 25, 2007 at 2:25 pm #

    oh my, it’s been twenty years since i’ve seen 90210. i don’t think it’s still on here. to me it was always the american tv series, all of america condensed into one early-evening hour, i enjoyed it a lot.
    in germany we don’t have that kind of highly-official graduation ceremony, the papers are handed over in front of all the parents and guests allright, but no rented gowns, funny hats or rings. same goes for prom night. a party, yes, but no frilly dresses and tuxedos.
    i realise this graduation/prom business is incredibly important to most american teenagers. and i agree with kimberly – let them have the frilliest dresses if that‘s what they are dreaming of, but don’t be disappointed if they’d rather go to the pizza joint in baggy jeans to meet their pimply boyfriends.

  4. crabbykate March 26, 2007 at 12:14 am #

    For me, it was Degrassi High’s graduation episode in the early 90s that ran parallel against my teen years. WHEELS DRIVES DRUNK. JOEY HAS SEX WITH TESSA. God I can still remember the plot lines, how old does that make me?

    I barely remember my prom (we called it a “formal”) except for the feeling of great let-down the next morning in the hotel room a bunch of us booked for the night. Waking up with an intense hangover and realizing nothing really had changed.

  5. puddlejumper March 26, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    I didn’t have any kind of ceremony for finishing school. I never stayed on long enough to actually finish having more or less dropped out the year before my compulsory schooling ended so I kind of know what you mean.

    My son (and my daughter too) plans to stay on and get the grades he needs to get to university. He is already past the age I was when I had him. His sixteenth was a huge milestone for me, just for that fact alone.

    I’ll be happy if my kids make it through to adulthood without serious drug addiction, pregnancy or jail but they continue to surpass my expectations.

  6. Kimberly March 26, 2007 at 8:12 am #

    “You FUCKED Tessa Camponelli????”

    Seminal moment in my life. Crabbykate, I can raise your dorkiness by revealing that it actually bothered me, when TNG started, that they had messed with Emma’s age. I think the fact that I KNEW she was supposed to be older makes me the queen of Degrassi dorkdom.

  7. bromac March 26, 2007 at 1:37 pm #

    I don’t think most people have the happy high school scenes that the crew had on 90210. High school, hell the teen era, sucksl. I really don’t believe that “cultural impression of graduation is one of closure and beginnings, of surety, or direction and decisions” is the norm.

    And I don’t think you have to have those experiences to be able to teach your daughter’s what you want to teach them. You had your own, invaluable experiences which made you a young woman. When they become young women you will be able to reflect on what it was like for you and what you want differently for them.

    My goal is to provide experiences for my daughter that I didn’t have, as is the goal (i think?) of most parents. So, in effect, we will all, at some point, have that moment where we are trying to teach something we really know nothing about. But we know how to be parents, and we know how to be kids, and we know how we want our kids to be……and you just fucking jump and hope to goddess you get it right!

  8. thordora March 26, 2007 at 1:46 pm #

    So long as they DON’T fuck the schools Tessa Camponelli, I’m good.

    And I don’t get the Emma thing. She’s annoying as shit on the new show (which yes, we watch) but how old should she be?

  9. Kimberly March 26, 2007 at 4:59 pm #

    Emma was made about 3 years younger than her actual age. She was born at the end of Grade 8, and was entering kindergarten at the end of the Grad ep. !0 years later and she would’ve been 15, not 12.

    Oh god, I am SUCH a dork!

  10. thordora March 26, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Yes, yes you are. But that’s ok. 🙂

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