Sometime around mid-February, I began to worry about my daughter’s kindergarten graduation.
Would she run out of the room because our last name starts with a W and waiting in line is too much for her?
I imagined her crying, yelling, and storming off the stage.
Would she become the center of negative attention and ruin the ceremony?
How many more enemies would I make that day with parents who don’t get it? Parents who only see a beautiful little girl being bad.
I worried about how to not attend. How do we get out of this?
Should I save a sick day and call out? Should we stay home or take her somewhere special and hope she doesn’t realize that we missed it?
Do we go prepared to leave, thus possibly leading to more trauma for our child as she could feel like she got “kicked out” of yet another place?
Am I a horrible mother for even thinking about this?
It sounds crazy, right? Who wouldn’t want to see their adorable pint-sized darling sing some songs and receive their little diploma on a beautiful day in June?
Of course, I want the memory, and that proud feeling of joy tingling up and down my spine as I watch my child smile and sing. I dream about feeling that joy. I long for it.
But in a public room filled with hundreds of people singing, clapping, and making noise — the only joy I can imagine is not going. And is not going depriving her of something?
Does it let the intolerant families win? Does it punish us, or her grandparents? Or are we selfish for going, or even not going?
When COVID-19 happened and graduations were canceled everywhere, I felt relieved. Relieved from making this decision.
I don’t need to find a way out or hope she gets sick that day.
I don’t have to worry about my daughter making irreversible memories for all of her classmates in front of hundreds of people, hoping they understand.
She couldn’t even participate in the Halloween parade or assembly — her favorite holiday that she celebrates all year round with costumes and movies at home. And while it makes me sad that she missed out, she doesn’t care because she chose not to go. Not because she was excluded from going.
But could she have gone if it were more sensory-friendly? I think about these things with no answer in mind.
I can’t imagine kindergarten graduation being a happy memory for us and that breaks my heart for her, and myself as her mother.
While she was obedient at her pre-k graduation last Spring, she was too nervous to sing songs and looked miserable and scared in a room of only sixty people. She took a fifteen-minute bathroom break with her paraprofessional and missed half of the ceremony while my husband and I sat there watching the other children, many with disabilities, sing and smile, while we felt sad that ours needed to escape the room.
I even felt guilty for having high expectations or any expectations at all.
It wasn’t the pre-k graduation we imagined, much like most milestones we experience with our child.
While I am not sure that we are even having a virtual celebration in its place, knowing that I can press the mute button at any time and turn the camera off takes the pressure off a bit if we do.
It also has me wondering, are virtual celebrations more inclusive?