Fun little family history: My mom was born in 1957, and she graduated high school in 1975. I was born in 1979, and graduated high school in 1997. My middle son, Ambrose, was born in 2002, and he’s graduating in 2020. Ironically, there’s a good chance that he won’t carry on the tradition. He’s aromantic and uninterested in any kind of relationship, and definitely doesn’t want to have children. But I still think it’s a fun little accidental “tradition” in my family!
Class of 2020, though, eh? What a year to graduate! But all things considered, if one of my three children had to graduate in a year where they didn’t get to see their friends to say goodbye, they had no graduation ceremony, and the last few months of the school year were chaotic, Ambrose is definitely the best option. He has good relationships with his in-person friends online (Discord! Minecraft servers! Tik Tok! Text chat groups!) and doesn’t feel the need to be in personal contact with them. Prom, summa awards, senior awards, etc didn’t matter to him. He was never interested in the graduation ceremony and wanted to skip it anyway. In fact, the only thing that has bothered him about any of this was missing the last few months of the ping pong club he accidentally started** and having to do online school (which he hates).
These last few months of lackadaisical learning and not-really-turning-in-assignments notwithstanding, Ambrose is graduating as a summa student and is planning to go to one of the local community colleges that have a baking associates degree. As parents, Jason and I are trying to adapt to the lack of finality that usually comes with a graduating senior’s various ceremonies. Today we’re hosting a Zoom graduation party for him, where Jason insists we play too-many-repetitions of Pomp and Circumstance while Ambrose is forced to wear the horrid graduation gown for the camera. Ha! Last weekend, we took him down to the school to get a few grad-photos. We let him choose how quirky they would be, so in addition to his cap and gown and summa cord, he’s wearing flip-flops and his gold cloak. Because Ambrose.
It’s been a weird year. But regardless, we’re very proud of Ambrose and all he’s done in his school career – especially outside the traditional academic achievements. He’s saved all his earned and gifted money for years instead of spending it, learning how to budget for the future and items he particularly wants. He started clubs and gathered groups of friends who would be considered unpopular outsiders in most schools, and made them notorious and popular in unconventional ways. He has become a district-wide legend as “that kid who wears the cloaks,” and people spot him and point him out at UIL, sports events, etc. Ambrose has participated in UIL for various math and science categories for most of high school, and he was nominated this last year for homecoming and prom king. He’s kind to his classmates, has kept a sense of individuality that often gets dulled in a public school setting, reports bullies (of him or others) without hesitation, and been part of many clubs/groups from National Art Honor Society to German Club. And of course, he probably knows more about Star Wars than anyone I’ve never known, down to minutia of individual TV series and books, and editing Wookipedia articles. Heh.
Ambrose is an awesome kid. He’s got the best sense of humor of anyone I know, often in subtle ways that take a moment to register. He’s confident, willing to take risks, and ready to be out in the world on his own, in his own weird way. He’s awesome.
Congrats to you, Ambrose. Class of 2020 has a really good one in you.
**At the beginning of his senior year, Ambrose texted a code to Remind to join one of his classes, but got one number wrong in the code. He accidentally joined a ping pong club at some other school, and he thought it was so funny, he started telling people that he was in the ping pong club. It was a joke at first, but it turned out that his physics teacher loved ping pong. Ambrose, his close friends (known as the “sauce squad”), and this teacher began the club, shoving together science lab tables as ping pong tables. Over the months, the ping pong club grew to have dozens of members, and would often go on until after 7pm on Wednesdays as they had tournaments. By the time spring break came around and quarantine ended, they were talking about having to split tournaments due to too many participants. Ping pong became one of Ambrose’s favorite things in the world, and in typical Ambrose fashion, it didn’t matter how good he was. He just enjoyed it for the fun.
Note: This post was pre-drafted before the current protests began. My heart is so heavy right now, and I know that it’s not even the slightest fraction of what someone without my privileges goes through on a daily basis. Nothing in our country is okay right now. I don’t talk very often about politics on this blog, but I couldn’t not address this. I stand as an ally in every way I can – vocally, financially, and with a determination to learn more so that I can root out any blindness or bias in myself. My heart is heavy for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others who have been attacked and/or lost their lives due to the color of their skin.