Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To the senior class of 2009...

It’s May, and each day brings another graduation announcement in the mail. It reminds me of when I was in high school…Ah, the wonder years…

I’m only kidding. My senior year was less than wonderful. I had taken all the classes I needed for my academic diploma by the end of my Junior year, so I begged my mom to let me graduate early. She wouldn’t.

Now days, students who have taken all of their high school courses can take college course and even come out of high school having completed their freshman requirements for college. But back then, we just had to take whatever was left. I took P.E., which involved running around the gym for a lap and then sitting on the bench watching the boys play basketball, and some kind of nursing class that involved gross mnemonic techniques.

I don’t remember the boys, but I’ll never forget the nursing class. We spent the first semester learning how to make an occupied and unoccupied bed, tightly tucking in the corners and putting on new pillowcases without shaking them. I hated it and firmly believe that’s why I rarely make mine at home now.

In addition, the teacher never forgave me for breaking Resuscitation Annie, our CPR doll's, arm during one bed-making episode. She was so livid she grabbed the dummy’s dangling arm and shook it right in my face, telling me exactly how much money it was going to cost me.

So, I got a job. I took a work study class which allowed me to leave school around 11. I applied for the job without my parents knowing, determined to get it on my own without any nepotism. I went through a battery of tests and was on my final interview, feeling so proud that I had been hired because of my vast education, potential and winning personality, when the manager stuck out his hand and said, “Your daddy gave me my very first job. I know all of your references and am related to half of them. Welcome aboard!”

That warehouse job gave me a taste of real money and real work. It was also the reason I decided to go to college, which makes it one of the best things that ever happened to me.

You see, graduation came and went, and I settled into the life of a working woman. I awoke at the crack of dawn and spent the summer on my feet pulling orders and packing them in boxes to be shipped to drug stores throughout the state. I was happy with it at first, but soon my days grew longer and longer. I was single, so all the married people and women with children got to leave before I did. Ten hour days turned into twelve hour days turned into my finally walking out hot and exhausted and knowing that, while I respected the folks who did that for a living, I didn’t want to be one of them.

It was well past Labor Day when I went home and asked my mother, “Is it too late to apply to college?”

To my amazement, she replied, “I hoped you would say that. I’ve already signed you up. It starts Monday.”

God love mothers. How she had the strength to go all summer, quietly waiting on me to change my mind, I’ll never know, but I will always thank her for it. Therefore, if I were ever asked to give advice to graduating seniors, "Listen to your mama!" would be it. That and be careful with Resuscitation Annie. You have no idea how much she cost!

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