The day after graduation, looking on Facebook, I had major posting envy. Another mother (of a girl) had posted gorgeous photos: bright, light, colorful with all the extended family lined up and looking suitably congratulatory. The girl graduate had clearly organised all the family to meet in one spot after the ceremony. Everyone in my family loathes my taking photos and most of my snaps turned out blotchy. There were no group photos (or actually any more than three people) "That's the difference between having a girl and a boy," said a friend.
|Harley, Mum and Dad - our "Group " photo, minus the eight others|
|Harley entering Baccalaureate (Graduation) Mass|
|Baccalaureate Mass in the gym. I'm not particularly religious but it was very moving and many rolling down tears. The High School years go in a flash|
|After mass: Harley , third from left, with his friends .|
And loads of Mexican food for lunch
Thank goodness for the umbrella on the deck.
We walked the seven mile Bay Bridge. Despite a soupcon of a smile in this photo, Cy, 11, called it "the worst afternoon of my life."
|Tallulah, Kevin and Cy. Having fun yet?|
|Dad walking the Bay Bridge|
And then there was the graduation ceremony in the beautiful art deco Paramount Theatre - where the orchestra pit pops up from below stage, oldstyle.
|Harley (right) and his friend Tyler|
|The art deco Paramount Theatre in Oakland|
We had fried chicken at home afterwards. No fancy dancy brunch for us.
|Grandma Patty from Pennsylvania and Grandma Madeleine from NZ.|
|Cousin Janelle and Lila, Harley and Grandma Patty|
That night we got together with 10 other families for a big party in a school gym - we were going to be 200 people in total. The other mothers are awesome organisers. I'm happy to be a follower and do as I'm told. However there was one soupcon of confusion - and it ended up that I didn't order the 30 pizzas. Panic stations people! But this is America and Cybelles can make those pizzas in 30 mins! Crisis averted.... My life is a one exciting rollercoaster, tell ya.
|Setting up our party for 200|
|Apparently you can have anything printed on MandMs|
|Mum and Dad hit the dance floor first. Their moves span most of the styles, from classic to jaunty to experimental.|
|Steve and Josh's garden has really come in|
|Steve showing us some of the new chicks|
Well that was graduation weekend. The whole senior year is stressful here in the US, unbelievably stressful, even if, like us, you'd vowed not to be sucked into the mad vortex of college applicationarama (Where is your child going, what are their SATs, PSATs GPAs, what Extracurriculars?) Then last minute we got sucked in, no question. Employing what feels like a whole village to guide us through it all. There's exams, writing the essay, finding something that's happened to you so you can write the essay, visiting schools, applying to schools, visiting more schools, keeping up your grades and organising all the grad parties. I always thought it was weird when people ask parents: what high school do you go to? Now I know. Because we're all doing senior year, but parents are doing it without the dewy skin and full head of hair.
I felt ten years younger the day after the graduation ceremony. And then realised, "Gosh he really is leaving home."
Harley. Who spent hours as a toddler crawling up just one part of the climbing frame in Kensington Park, London, who screamed with laughter when Kevin recited the Italian soccer team every night, who drove us crazy with his insistence on singing Wheels On The Bus including all the names of his pre-school class. Who arrived at his Oakland public school with a posh London accent and extremely shy but by the end of the week wailed: "Oh God, not another bloody Learning Centre!" Who at age five got baby Tallulah out of her cot in the morning and fed Cy his cereal and made up games for all of them. Who played whiffle ball in the backyard with friends every Friday night, then almost killed us with worry at high school wanting his independence and his own life. Who made us so proud with his politeness and kindness to those who needed his help. Who has stayed friends with his classmates from when he was five years old, through all their academic pressures and parties and disappointments and fun times. Yes, all those Harleys are leaving and I have been exhausted and relieved and happy for him and so, so ready for him to go. But today I'm just sad. Because I just realised he really is leaving.
|Cy and Harley, 15 years ago|