A (Guilt) Trip to Graduation

file0002022362803I took the day off work to go to Le Cordon Bleu and meet with the financial aid department, and to take Austin to his graduation practice. Before I could do any of that, I had to pick up Lexi from school because she had another migraine that was making her throw up. I guess it’s good that I’d already taken the day off. And of course it’s good that she threw up at school before I got her.

So this afternoon I took Austin to his graduation practice because it’s very important to practice graduating before actually graduating. I mean, how else will a bunch of 18 year olds figure out how to walk, sit, and stand without first practicing? So I drove him to UCF and watched him walk, sit, and stand for a couple hours. It’s okay though, Austin’s rotten attitude more than made up for it.

“Why are you so mad and crabby?”

“Because I don’t want to be here.”

“Why? It’s graduation!” I enunciated every syllable, convinced I could change his mind if I really put some emphasis on the word ‘graduation’.

“It’ll be hot and boring just sitting there in that robe for hours.”

“Oh wah wah. Guess what. When I graduated, I had to sit out on the football field and it was 120 degrees that day because weather was much hotter back then and we had over 800 people in my graduating class!” (I almost added the part that I was hung over to top it off, but stopped before incriminating myself. I’m lucky I have pretty good kids because I was a rotten teenager. Sorry once again, Mom and Dad.)

“Well, graduation is stupid and pointless,” Austin insisted.

Frustrated with his complaining, I snapped,”It’s not for you, Austin. Do you have any idea how many band concerts I’ve sat through? How many baseball games I’ve frozen my butt off watching? How many times I’ve helped you with homework? How many school projects and papers of yours I’ve saved? How many parent/teacher conferences I’ve attended? How many holiday parties I planned as a room mom? Do you think I did those things for me?”

I have no problem resorting to The Guilt Trip. It can be an effective parenting tool. Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well with Austin.

“Then why on earth would you want to sit around for 6 hours just to see me walk across a stage?” he asked, using my little guilt trip against me, suggesting that I’d put in my time and should just sit this one out.

Believe me, after enduring his surly attitude for a couple hours, I was ready to shout, “Fine! Stay home! What do I care?! Forget the stupid graduation!” But there was no way on earth I was giving in because A. I’m stubborn, B. I wasn’t going to give Austin his way just because he was being a crabbutt, and C. it’s his GRAD-U-A-TION! And up until a couple days ago, I didn’t even know if he would be graduating this spring!

As he was practicing sitting down in a chair, I was sitting there in the audience with a stomachache. Oh wait, that’s not a stomachache, I thought. Oh no. No, no, no. That’s not a stomachache. That’s cramps! Oh great. I rummaged in my purse for um, supplies, but then remembered that I’d conveniently removed all ‘unnecessary’ items from my purse to make it lighter. Wasn’t that smart thinking on my part?

I slinked off to the bathroom and found a vending machine. I dug in my wallet for a quarter before remembering that I had also conveniently taken the change out of my wallet and put it in my desk drawer at school in case I needed something really important like a Diet Dr. Pepper or a Rice Krispie Treat. Yep, I am just full of smart plans. Okay, what are my options? It’s too far to drive home. By the time I walk to my car and head to a store, Austin will be done with practice. I could go on stage, borrow the microphone and make an announcement, asking any senior girls if they could help me out. That could be a little embarrassing though. I ransacked my purse once more and found one lone quarter stuck somewhere in the ripped lining. Yes! I held the quarter aloft, my face filled with awe and wonder as if I’d unearthed a rare gold coin from ancient Rome.

I inserted the coin and tried to turn the handle. It was stuck. I tried the other side. Coin in, turn handle, stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck! Neither handle would budge. I braced myself with my foot on the machine and yanked with all my strength. Nothing.

“Oh you have got to be kidding me!” I yelled to the empty bathroom, my voice reverberating off the walls.

I tried to retrieve my quarter so I could search out another bathroom, but it was stuck. I was desperate and when people are desperate, they tend to do crazy things. I suppose that would explain why I came up with this plan. I shoved a piece of gum in my mouth, chewed until it was soft, took it out, and smashed it onto the quarter. I guess I really should’ve thought the plan through because I had no idea how I was supposed to retrieve the quarter with a piece of chewed gum. I bet MacGyver could get a tampon with a piece of chewed gum.

Thankfully, the practice ended before I could come up with yet another brilliant plan. (And believe me, it’s a good thing because I’d started concocting a way to get a covert picture of one of the guidance counselors who looks just like Mark Twain!)

So, here’s a recap. Austin’s still pouty about going to graduation. (Ha, he thinks sitting in the arena for 2 hours is bad? Wait until he sees how many pictures I make him take.) There may or may not still be a gum-covered quarter stuck in a UCF bathroom. Lexi still doesn’t feel too well. And my vacuum cleaner died tonight. At least I have a legitimate excuse for having filthy floors. And finally, if Austin continues to complain about attending the graduation ceremony, I will have no problem pulling out the big guns and layering on a few more guilt-laden stories of all the sacrifices I’ve made through the years to ensure he actually got to the point of graduation. I may even throw in the story of today’s debacle for good measure. It’s what I do. All in a day’s work for a mom.


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