Sixth Grade Graduation Feels

6thGradeGraduation-2

I’ve read a few posts about how silly it is that we make such a big hullabaloo about 6th grade graduation here in the United States.  If I was heading out of town the minute school was over and starting my vacation (or even a week before because let’s face it, the last week of school is pretty much a five week party disguised as free day care) I’d probably agree that it’s a big deal about nothing.  It’s not like they don’t let kids move on to seventh grade. Everybody passes even if you get straight “F’s”. But we didn’t have any big summer plans and I love any excuse to celebrate it so I was into it.

6thGradeGraduation-1

Bug was not it at all. She didn’t even want us to come. She didn’t wanted any flowers or balloons or any fanfare at all. I tried to interview her on the morning of graduation. I asked her if she had any advice for her younger self and if there was anything she’d miss about elementary school. Her straight-faced answer was pretty much as few words as possible. I’m sure mostly just to spite me. It was pretty much: I don’t care.  I don’t care now, I won’t care then and I have nothing to say to my younger self.

Okay then!

But I ignored her and made a big deal out of it anyway because I knew someday she would care. I invited my parents from out of town and everybody showed up. It was a big deal.

6thGradeGraduation-puppy

So no flowers and no balloons, right? How about a puppy? Just kidding. We didn’t get Bug a puppy. My friend Sandra showed up with her puppy (Look at that thing!!! It’s like a beanie baby collectible!) and Bug said,  Is that for me? Did you get me a puppy for graduation? I wish. I think a puppy is all she could get excited about for graduation. Too bad we already have two and we can’t really take on any more.

6thGradeGraduation-3

Everybody was there. Joon, who is a grade behind Bug, worked the event as staff. I guess that’s what fifth graders do. They help people find their seats, hand out programs and then sit along side in their own section cheering on each graduate as they cross the stage and receive their fake diploma. It was really sweet. Some kids get more cheers than others so you know I was going bananas and making a fool of myself when they called Bug’s name. I love that kid.

6thGradeGraduation-4

And so does everybody else. She didn’t want her picture taken but we forced her. She did want a picture taken with her teacher which was a huge big honor (pictured in the blue sweater). I really loved her teacher this year.

This was the first time Bug has been in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. Our school is known for their ESL programs and every student is in mixed languages class at one time or another whether they speak another language besides English or not. Joon has been in ESL classes several times because she speaks Farsi and the school loves to use her as a translator but Bug never experienced that until sixth grade.

Honestly, I was a little worried at first because I thought it might hinder Bug’s learning experience since the teacher had to spend so much extra time on the English-learners but the opposite was true. This class was the BEST thing for Bug. She learned so much compassion for her fellow students and probably got graded harder than ever because she was held to stricter standards. She made friends with people from so many different countries and they formed really strong bonds.

At graduation there were several foreign students who were leaving, either going home to their countries of origin or going to other schools in other districts, and they were crying. They were genuinely sad to leave behind this school that has been their home for years. It made me sad too. I just remember Bug and her group of friends… how they might not speak English fluently but how they held hands and affectionately tapped each other on the head in jest. They are such sweet kids who were so happy to be here. I will miss them. Bug will miss them. I think by the end of the graduation and after the picture taking mobs subsided it started to sink in for her. It’s hard to say goodbye to something was so special. Not to mention the new big world of middle school is scary!

6thGradeGraduation-proud-dad

I think the proudest person there was Toby. It was kind of a big deal for him to take the day off from shooting houses to spend hours at this school that he’s always kind of rolled his eyes at. I was really glad he was there. Bug might have been indifferent at the time but I know she will always treasure the memory.6thGradeGraduation-5

She’s a big kid now. Can you even believe it? I can’t. She’s like a giant now. When I hug her I don’t have to lean over anymore. She sits on my lap when I’m trying to work and takes up so much room I can’t get anything done. Not much different from when she was little but I’m starting to wonder how long this lap-sitting will continue. Of course I keep getting bigger to match so maybe we’ll be okay. Just kidding. I am trying really hard not to get bigger.

6thGradeGraduation-giant-kid

I’m bracing myself for her high school graduation. I can only imagine what kind of feels that will dig up.

Tuesday Night Chaharshanbe Suri

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually it was barely even drizzling but the thought of trekking to the beach fire pits for the annual jumping-over-fire event (aka Chaharshanbe Suri) seemed like way too much work for us pansy-ass Californians. Weather in general freaks us out. Hours of mindless traffic, whatever! But a slight drizzle is cause for alarm.

So we bought some coals and some Persian take-out from our local International market and called up Grandma Pedram. It had been one of those rough-around-the-edges kind of day and a little Tuesday night family visiting would do us some good. Of course the kids were bummed because a little drizzle (or wild horses) couldn’t keep them away from the beach. They sulked in the car and stuck their noses in their phones, playing data-free games while Payam and I cursed at the usual Tuesday night traffic. charsanbehsouri-2018-1

When we got to Grandma’s, Uncle Ramin had already gotten a small barbecue ready for us. This was something new for everyone, making fires at home! Fire! Fire!  It was novel and even the phone-addled girls started to catch on to the excitement while Grandma stayed inside nice and warm peering through the sliding glass door.

charsanbehsouri-2018-3

After the fire was going in the small barbecue, Payam took some tin foil and made seven small fires. It took a bit of coaxing to get them going. He worked on that while the rest of us chowed down on our Persian take-out inside. When the fires were good and lit, the kids came out and we started the “jumping festival”.

Jumping over fires is thought to be a way to say goodbye to the bad of last year and hello to the good of this year. I’m all for that! Uncle Ramin taught us how to say “Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly yellow pallor” in Farsi. Of course I cannot remember how to say it now but it’s relatively easy. The kids made up their own sayings as they jumped over. Bug wished for no allergies and Joon wished for happiness.

charsanbehsouri-2018-2

It didn’t really matter what we said or if we had the fire-jumping traditions down just right. We are not practicing Zoastrians and we probably didn’t even get the day right.  Chaharshanbeh Soori* literally translates to the last Wednesday of the New Year so why are we doing it on a Tuesday night?  We discussed that for quite a bit but no one really had a good answer. We were just there for the memories and the family time.  I’m so glad we did it too.

Sometimes you have to push through those rough days when you’d really rather just check out on the couch and let the kids turn their brains into phone-addled mush and put out a little effort because it’s always worth it in the end. Always. Seeing Grandma Pedram smile through the sliding glass door as her grandkids jumped over fire like she probably did as a little girl is something I will always treasure.

*there are so many ways to spell Persian words in English (Pringlish) so forgive my many iterations.