Prolific congratulatory offerings are in order for the conTIMplating household! My extraordinarily talented and formerly red-headed daughter, Thing 2, graduated from high school last week! Thank you. Thank you very much. That’s one reason I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busier than Josh Earnest after Obama goes off teleprompter. This is because as the end of the senior year approaches, everything leading up to graduation is The Last One: The Last choir concert; The Last theater performance; The Last prom; The Last suspension; etc. And being the good parent I am I felt I should be there for The Last One. I can’t just sit around and blog or go out and play golf and miss The Last One like it was The Second-to-Last One. Well, maybe a quick nine. I can be a little late.
Unlike Thing 1’s graduation, which was highly celebratory in nature, going through the process of graduating my concluding offspring made me a bit nostalgic for the tight-rolled pants and leather ties of my own commencement. I suppose it was due to the compatible similarities of the two events, detached only by the passage of 30 years: both were in early June in un-air-conditioned arenas where friends and family sweat it out on bleacher seating; both of us were the youngest in our family to graduate leaving the distinct probability of parental empty nesting; and both were as a member of a quartet of inseparable friends taking part in one last official and emotional milestone together. (If I knew what an emoji was, I would insert it here.)
I’m not sure what the deal is with having a group of four friends other than the convenience of hatchback transportation and making tee times, but both Thing 2 and I found ourselves spending our high school years activitying with three besties. There’s probably someone smarter than me who, according to current scientific practice, developed a theory that is accepted as fact without regard for evidence as to the role of various personality types in such groups. Both Thing 2’s and my circle were composed of one of each of the classic temperaments: phlegmatic, melancholy, sanguine, and cynic.
Thing 2’s group called themselves ‘The Groupo de Quattro’, but everyone else knew them as ‘The Freshmen Four’, a moniker bestowed by upperclassmen when they showed up to high school functions/activities that first year as a single unit. The name stuck with them the entire four years as well-played irony. Ironically, as of last Friday, the name is once again unironically appropriate.
Somewhere, sometime, in a fit of spasmodic creativity, my high school group of four took to calling ourselves ‘The Dudemen’, presumably because we all called each other ‘Dude’. Of course, in the 80s everyone answered to the name of ‘Dude.’
“Dude, are you wearing your Jams to the Huey Lewis concert?”
“No, Dude. I borrowed my brother’s parachute pants.”
Interestingly—and by ‘interestingly’ I mean ‘not very interesting, but of note’—I was in a social circle of a female version of The Dudemen called ‘The Babewomen’, also a group of four. (This practice of naming your circle of four friends incidentally goes back to the first century and the Biblical circle of Jesus, Peter, James and John, who called themselves ‘The Vier of God’.) While there was some cross-dating of Dudemen and Babewomen and attempts at getting the two groups together in entirety, to my recollection there was never a complete Ochogathering.
As a parental unit of one of these quadra-millennial-relationals, I am struck by the change in perspective which has found me a bit conTIMplative of late. I remember the parents of my groupies ranging from straight-laced to pretty lame to down-right odd to some I actually developed a relationship with. I’d be curious to know where on this spectrum The Queen Mother and I fall or whether we are even on the spectrum or if there even is a spectrum or whether the term ‘spectrum’ is offensive and limited to use in a Free Speech Zone, which doesn’t make any sense but is happening on our college campuses.
Unlike my group of Dudemen paternities, the Groupo parents became its own group of friends over the years. I guess you can only spend time in someone’s entryway picking up your kid so many times before you actually have something of substance to talk about. Eventually we began socializing during school functions the Groupo were attending and before you knew it the ladies were having lunch and the men were exchanging power tools; a regular Groupo de Ocho in our own right. Soon we will be moving each other’s furniture and making pick-up runs to the airport. I’ve been trying to get everyone to call ourselves the OctoMoms but it hasn’t caught on. Yet.
I suppose that is one reason for the success of the Groupo, as we more or less force them to relate to one another. Especially during that last month, events were almost comical as there was always the obligatory after-party photoshoot of the four together, even though they had just snapped the same picture a week before albeit in different outfits. I didn’t see where they had changed much to require such documentation, but each event being The Last One, we as parents would line them up and make them smile as all our cameras and phones and camera phones wizzed and clicked. As they lined up for graduation photos last Friday, I wonder if we all wondered whether this would be The Last One. And I was reminded of my own graduation with The Dudemen, posing for final photos on that last night of high school 30 years ago, and finding out the next day that my mom had not put any film in the camera. But I’m not bitter or anything.
As a Groupo parent, I don’t think I am alone in finding myself taking pride in not only my own daughter’s, but each of her friends’ accomplishments as well—as we all have invested significant time, money, gasoline, pizza, and cake into their high school careers. And I suppose that as our kids scatter toward their futures we as the parents will no doubt see each other less often as life tends to happen. But until then we will celebrate the recent success of our various progeny and raise a prideful, heart-felt toast to our high-school graduates. And to The Freshmen Four.