Is It OK to Cry at Your Kid's Graduation?

Jacqueline Burt Cote

pre-k graduationIf you're heading to your kid's pre-k or kindergarten graduation soon, pack tissues. Like, a lot of tissues. I'm a huge sap, as anyone who's ever made it through an entire screening of Forrest Gump with me can tell you, but I still didn't expect to lose it the way I did at my son's pre-k graduation last year. 

Now, of course, my over-emotional reaction makes perfect sense ... pre-k and kindergarten graduations symbolize a transition just as significant as the one from adolescent to young adult: Little kid to big kid. Oh lord, I'm getting all choked up again.

I think it was the slideshow that set me off ... every adorable milestone of the year captured in living color: First day of school, the Halloween parade, the holiday pageant, the 100 Days of Pre-K ceremony. All the shots of our kids proudly holding up their carefully printed names and construction paper collages ... suddenly it hit me. Those "firsts" were behind us now. I'd never see the same look of delight on my son's face as the one he got when he drew his first perfect circle or came running out of school with the first valentine he ever made me. And ... cue choked sobbing.

It's okay to cry, right? Maybe embarrassing for our kids, but okay for us.

Those first few years of our kids' lives go by in such a crazy blur of sleep-deprivation and diapers and Play-Doh and Sesame Street that it's hard to stay in the moment and appreciate every passing day. Watching my son and his classmates in their tiny caps and gowns singing the theme song from The Golden Girls (cue more sobs!), I realized I could never get those days back.

I try to remind myself of that feeling when I get cranky and frustrated with my kids. It doesn't always magically put everything back into perspective, but it does help.

How do you think you'll react at your kid's graduation ceremony?

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