Educational events Graduations everywhere, and not a drop of water to drink June 15, 2022 admin 0 Comments OK, there’s a lot going on. I’ve got George about to graduate from fifth grade and Louie from eighth, both of which are milestone grades, with fifth grade marking the end of elementary school and eighth, the end of middle school. That means George will be leaving the building where he has attended school for six years, having entered as basically a baby. When I see the tiny kindergartners waddling out of the cars now, past those cement dividers and through the same institutional hallways, I literally can’t believe George was ever among them — not to mention any of my children. I also can’t believe how cute these little kindergartners are. Were my kids that cute? And if they were, why don’t I remember? What’s going on here — and what have I been doing all my life, anyway? Meanwhile, Louie will be leaving the building where he has attended school for three years — but given prepubescent developments, it may as well have been a decade. When I compare Louie’s first day of middle school picture with the picture I just put in his eighth grade tribute page, therapeutic intervention is required; it’s literally hard to tell it’s the same kid. Three years ago, Louie was a boy smiling shyly, gripping his new iPhone as if it validated his social stature. The picture I put in the yearbook weeks ago is one of a brooding teenager, looking into the camera with “I don’t need to validate anything to anybody” eyes — except you can’t see his eyes because he has pulled his hair over his face. Getting Louie to agree to even take a picture for his yearbook tribute involved negotiation tactics not seen since 2011’s talks with North Korea. No to mention, Louie’s a foot taller, his voice an octave lower, and getting his hair cut has somehow become a “very emotional experience” that requires “space” for Louie to work through his “new look” while determining the best hair gel to help maintain it — requiring yet another hour in his seemingly permanent residency in the second-floor bathroom. But none of this matters, because we are living in a multiverse where there is endless optionality to our existence, making me think, where has the time gone? What have I been doing all my life, anyway? All of my lives — in every universe? As for Selma, she graduated from seventh grade at Greenwich Academy on June 3, finishing up the school year a full four weeks before her brothers, proving true that old adage “the more you pay.” It also leaves Selma lounging around the house, smiling coyly as her brothers drag in their backpacks at 4 pm, while she asks them, “how was your day?” with a languid yawn that makes it immediately clear she has just woken up. Which leads me to graduations, because let’s face it: it’s a heady time. Your kids are moving through yet another milestone, you’re amazing yearbooks and loose roadkill from a time capsule circa 9/1/22 to 6/24/22. And as we finish up the school year, we hold in our hearts an 11-year-old smearing blood on her face to play dead during another school shooting, while our own Chris Murphy gets down on his knees on the Senate floor. A pandemic gone — but maybe not. Mental health issues in kids soaring. And yet, somehow, somewhere, we made it through another year. David Foster Wallace started his graduation speech at my alma mater with the following joke: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water’?” And so, as everyone turns another page, and you reread “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” one more time — maybe even the last time — I’ll leave you with a truth that Wallace left with all those graduates so many years ago, a truth “which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: “This is water.” “It is unimaginably hard to do this,” Wallace continues, “to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.” And suddenly you think, as you watch your son-now-man smile from beneath unruly locks, was that graduation speech really 17 years ago? Where has all the time gone? What’s going on here — and what have I been doing all my life, anyway? And then you remember: This is water. Claire Tisne Haft is a former publishing and film executive, raising her family in Greenwich while working on a freelance basis on books and films. You can be reached at Ctisne@surgiscapital.com.