You see, there can be no better prize as a parent than those academic award days when your child’s achievement is unveiled publicly and you can revel in parental smug-dom and remind yourself that you made that happen. I always felt that I cheated my own father with my list of lackluster progress prizes that he was forced to witness my acceptance of, which has made it all the more gratifying an experience to have a child like NC.
At least it should be, because as many of you will be aware – and in spite of having SOME input into her gene pool – we are very different people, my daughter and I, and where I have always been a very vocal underachiever, she prefers to remain an annoyingly reserved over-achiever.
Several years ago, she omitted to tell me the date of her graduation day from Year 12 and while all her friends’ parents were gifted the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for successfully maneuvering their kids through school, I remained oblivious to the event until I saw the celebratory photos plastered all over Facebook.
I have never forgiven her, nor for one moment allowed her to forget that this was a selfish attack on my parenting prowess, and since then I have made her swear publicly on several occasions that she WILL graduate from university, preferably in the most sickeningly pink floral dress I can find as punishment, even if her circle of friends think it is uncool.
I get it. She’s just not that girl – she’s one of those anti-cool girls, from whom I had to take the reins even at her school formal, like the true stage mom that I am, while she dug her heels firmly into the ground and fought me over every minor detail. Her dress was pretty, but not the Disney floaty number I had dreamt about; her hair was tidy but she refused the expensive chignon I wanted, and such were her nerves on the day that the very ugly rash she broke out in somehow managed to compliment the scarlet tone of her dress – which was some form of Karma, I suspect.
Perhaps the skywriting was a little bit too much.
Anyway, I suspected a few months back that the date for her graduation must be coming up soon but she continued to remain vague about it. When even my poor interpretation of social cues informed me that perhaps I was stepping on dangerous territory if I continued to threaten her about it, I was left to trust that she would adhere to our negotiated “arrangement”. That is, I get the photo of her in gown and mortarboard, but she doesn’t have to wear makeup, shave her legs or buy a new dress for the occasion. Armpits remain a point of negotiation.
Presumably due to cuts in tertiary education, her university kindly provided us with about four minutes notice of the date. They must assume that we parents don’t have a life and WILL drop everything for the satisfaction of watching our prodigy walk across the stage, and that appears to be true, because although I had booked flights away to Queensland that weekend, they somehow knew that I would have sold Adele tickets or postponed my own father’s funeral to be there.
Where NC underestimated me was that she thought that this calendar clash might prevent me from attending her big day and I watched her reaction to my initial disappointment at the date – the barely contained joy, the shrug of the shoulders and the arm placed unconvincingly around my own in mock pity as she commiserated with me – with some pride, thankful that all those drama lessons had been worth the financial pain.
NC is a scientist so I will excuse her logical brain and ineptitude at interpreting the true power of a mother’s pride and dedication to her cubs. Let’s hope she’s better at interpreting climate data.