Friday, June 15, 2007

How Much Is A Trip To The Moon?

Lizzy had her 8th Grade Graduation this week. She was excited and I understand why. It is an occasion that deserves recognition for accomplishments and hard work. It is also a chance to celebrate with friends that will be separating into multiple different high schools. She had a pretty dress and her brother presented her with a dozen roses at her ceremony. (Brownie points for Will who, no doubt, was pressured to do this at his girlfriend's urging, but it was still a very sweet thing to do.)

BUT HEAR THIS! Graduations are getting out of control!

When we pulled into the parking lot it was difficult to navigate around all the limos and stretch Hummers. Yes, there were that many! Three years ago, when Will graduated from 8th grade, there was one limo. Four years before that, at Joe's graduation, there weren't any.

What's going on? When my older boys finished middle school, the girls were dressed up, wearing nice dresses paired with the trend of flip-flops. For Lizzy's event, many of the girls were wearing PROM dresses! I heard the mother next to me saying she had spent over $200 on her daughter's dress! And she felt that was a good deal! Yikes! I mean, it's not like we live in an area where people just have money to burn. We live in a middle-class community with many ESL families. I can't help but wonder what new immigrants think.

It just leads me to ponder, if we start going all out for something like 8th grade graduation, how are we going to "wow" our kids when they get married?? They will have been in a limo so many times by then, probably starting at kindergarten graduation soon, we'll have to hire a whole string of horse and carriage drivers. And I can't help but wonder if we are taking away from the excitement of high school and college graduation. Kind of a BTDT kind of thing?

And now, apparently, it's becoming appropriate to give gifts for each graduation, starting with preschool. Some of Lizzy's friends received money from multiple relatives, and parents gave gifts like laptop computers, trips and one even got a car! She's 14 for goodness sakes! The girl won't even be able to get her permit for a year!! What kind of gifts are these kids going to get when they graduate from high school? And college? Maybe a new house or a trip to the moon?

James once told me I was "stuck in the 80's" which I actually considered a compliment since at that time it was still the 90's so I was only one decade behind. Maybe I am "stuck in the 80's" but I just think parents are overdoing it. Lizzy received some of the highest awards possible for perfect grades and involvement in school and community projects but I just don't feel like we need to reward her with money or a car or a vacation. We gave her a pat on the back and said, "Good job Honey! We're proud of you." And I'm going to write her a letter telling her how proud I am-- not just for what she's accomplished, but for who she is. Her reward should come from within--and she IS proud of HER accomplishments.

And that should be enough.


Christina said...

Holy Moly. That is seriously out of control. My daughter's two years away from 8th grade "graduation" (I don't think their school does a big deal, but I have no idea) but I can say there is NO way she'll be getting a limo or a $200 dress or a car! (she won't even get that for high school graduation!) And we wonder why teens and 20-somethings are so self-centered these days!

S. said...

I absolutely, totally agree. How on earth would people celebrate a college graduation. Insane. I don't spend $200 on a dress for myself! And M. already knows that she is saving up for her first car. I like Dave Ramsey's approach to teaching kids about money.