in my third graduation ceremony, I felt sorry for the girls sitting in
rows like exotic butterflies stuck in their seats, enduring advice from
was excellent stuff. About a smile or tears no longer getting you what you
want and having to slog if you want a decent life.
when youíre 15, or 17, or 19, youíre hoping (against every bit of
odds) that your dress looks better than the other girlsí and that this
will be the night you fall in love and live happily ever after.
if you donít, then well, you better had get a job or study something.
Youíll find out soon enough that there is no such thing as a free lunch,
and to get a life you have to have a career, not marry one.
this year, having dragged two children through SEA and CXC, I didnít
want to advise kids. Theyíd had enough of that. I wanted to get their
advice. They know stuff Iíd forgotten.
wanted to get up on that stage and ask SEA, CXC and Cape students some
youíve done the hardest exam of your lives, and when you got your
results you cried your hearts out, because you realised nothing will be
the same once you go on, that nothing, not even friendships, lasts
forever, and youíve still got baby faces, bright eyes and baby skin.
thatís a bit sad.
because youíre a kid you live from moment to moment, absorbing it all.
There is so much to see. You donít even know what jaded means.
resilience, your capacity for being diverted by new adventures, your
absence of hang-ups will ensure you will have a best friend by the end of
the first or second day of ďbig school.Ē
grown-ups lose that open attitude after falling into a few pits. Thatís
why we are so boring. We donít like it when we fall down. We find it
harder to get up than you do.)
by now you know how to make a self-deprecating joke, you care if a friend
is sad, donít show off, love to read, make your bed and do your homework
without being told youíre good, youíre cool.
your parents who are a mess.
messy divorces, career battles, illnesses, tangled relationships, phobias:
thatís the grown-up stuff that makes them grouchy.
you have always kept the world new for them. They didnít realise how
much the routine of dropping you to school, the crumpled school notes in
the bottom of your bag, the curve of your cheek bent over your homework
did for them.
didnít know that the memory of you going off to your first day in
primary school in uniform with a lunch kit would be tattooed in their
didnít know that you created a bright montage (another tattoo) of your
carefree laughter with friends, your pen-marked uniforms, your anxious
face when we arrived late to pick you up, your uneaten, sodden,
juice-soaked sandwich, your curtsey at a concert, your triumph at making
student of the month, your surprising insights and witticisms and your
manner on the phone mimicking ours.
want to know. How do you do it? How do your tears turn into smiles in
seconds; how do you recover from disappointments, find it so easy to
do you find every event so interesting that it is recounted in breathless
episodes? How come youíre not afraid to try new foods, games, sports,
friends and cultures?
come you donít see race, or socio-economic ďgroupingsĒ simply
friendly faces? How come you want to be a doctor, scholar, painter, and
pilot all in one; you donít see limits?
want to say donít become like us too quickly. Squirm in your seats,
enjoy your racing hearts, and when the ceremony is over go off and be
us watch you and be new again.