Saturday, June 20, 2009

O, Beautiful!

I'm kind of torn about the whole idea of "kindergarten graduation."

We celebrated Hilary's "commencement" last week, and it's true that she's now leaving behind the sheltered, nurturing pre-school/kindergarten she has attended since she was two years old (for the sheltered, nurturing environment of the wealthy Main Line elementary school she'll go to next year, but that's a topic for a different post). In that light, she is making a legitimate break. On the other hand, I would hardly call this the kind of achievement typically honored at graduations. No finals, no papers, no panic. Although she struggled with the subjects of swing sharing and glitter management, her "diploma" was never in jeopardy.

A few years ago, I read a study suggesting that all the effusive praise heaped on children today causes them to grow up with a poor work ethic and a huge sense of entitlement, so since then I've been wary about celebrating anything that required little effort from my kids. With Hilary, I've discovered, that can be said about most of her accomplishments - even her precocious reading ability, which has impressed both her father and her teachers. Although she was reading chapter books at an age at which Erika could barely read at all, I know deep down it wasn't because she worked hard to develop the skill. It happened very easily for Hilary, like it did for Jonah, because of the hard-wiring in their brains.

Of course, I'm still proud of Hilary, and I love her to pieces, but I think when your six-year-old decides to become an artist instead of a doctor because the latter requires "too much school," it's prudent to begin counseling her against always choosing the path of least resistance. I was, however, encouraged by the diligence with which Hilary applied herself to learning "O, Beautiful," one of the showpieces of the graduation ceremony. She walked around the house singing it (in a curious falsetto) so often that now, nine days later, none of us can shake it from our heads.

The pictures from the graduation all came out dark and blurry (serves us right for letting Erika take them), but you'll have to take my word for it that Hilary, as always, was beautiful.

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