May has given way to June and junior high has given way to — yes, that noise was me gasping — having a high school freshman daughter. Of course, she won’t actually be considered a freshman until school starts in August but the simple fact of the matter is my daughter is now an eighth grade graduate, has completed her elementary and junior high school years and, I am afraid, the next four years are going to be even more of a blur than the ones since she was sitting on the couch all smiles with her Sesame Street lunch box ready to go off to her first day of Kindergarten.
We often lament how quickly the weeks pass by here at the paper, how fast each issue comes and goes and that is just magnified when I step back and take a look at life.
How did we get to the point that there are only four years left before my 14-year-old strikes out on her own to college, the workforce, or whatever path she happens to choose? Unbelievable. And when did she get to be 14? Just a couple of years ago, it seems, her favorite thing to do was push her doll in a baby stroller as we took a walk to the park or the library.
Wednesday of this past week, co-worker Teresa Hammond asked how I was doing; she said I hadn’t been talking about my feelings, having an imminent graduate, and was I going to be okay at the ceremony.
As is the case with some difficult assignments, I was planning to use the ‘cover of the camera’ to mask my feelings; I was taking photos for the paper of the May 27 graduation, therefore it’s easier to take myself personally out of the equation and just wear my newspaper hat.
That fact was not lost on my daughter, who very often begrudges me my job. She was going to do her own hair, after just having made a stop at the salon to have her nails professionally done, so I was dropping her off at home and said I would be back after I got the camera.
It was then that I got ‘the look.’
“Why are you bringing that? Why can’t you just come to my graduation and be a normal person?”
Apparently, reporters are not normal people.
I patiently explained to her there were two reasons why I was bringing the camera.
She didn’t want to hear one, let alone two, but I persevered.
First, Oakdale schools reporter Dawn Henley had a graduation she needed to attend elsewhere for family reasons, and since I was going to Oakdale Junior High School’s graduation anyway, it made sense for me to cover it. The second reason, I told her, was that by covering it for the paper, that would allow me to get into the thick of the action and also get some nice up close photos for us, family wise, without getting thrown out of the stadium.
She was a little better about me going as a reporter at that point.
When I was busy getting some candid shots while the graduates were congregating adjacent to the gym, she decided she even wanted me to come and get a picture of her with her walking partner for the ceremony, Danae.
Many of her friends know me and know what I do; they all wanted me to take their picture. They all think what I do for a living is cool…
Some days it is. Some days, like graduation day, it was messy but necessary.
Oakdale Junior High graduation was outside. Wednesday night. In the football stadium. In the rain. In what sometimes literally was torrential rain.
My notebook was thrashed. My pen would just stop writing when it ran through a raindrop splattered on the page. And let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t spend any time on my hair — at least the graduates had their mortarboards to protect them a little.
If anything, all that rain and all those kids marching in to the stadium looking somewhat like drowned rats made for a very memorable graduation.
I’m used to being on football fields and dealing with rain … it’s just that usually, it’s in the middle of football season and I’m worried about first downs and penalties more so than mortarboards and how to handle a freshman.
So now we’re on to the next phase. High school exit exams, high school sports, prom, driving lessons … and it’s all going to come and go way too fast.
That’s about the only thing I know for sure.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.