Raising triplets came with all kinds of challenges. It was 1978, and I had never known anyone who had triplets. So, we muddled through the best we could. That included making sure our three kids had three separate lives, including separate birthday parties each year, being in separate classes in school, separate sports teams, followed by attending three different high schools and, finally, three different colleges all over the country.
You can imagine our parental horror to learn that two of the three would be graduating from college on the exact same day at the exact same time on opposite sides of the country. We had no choice but to divide and conquer, my husband going to Durham, NC and I taking the drive to Pomona, CA. We also arranged to each visit the child whose graduation we could not attend the week before graduation.
And here’s where lemonade was made. While I was at dinner with my son and some of his friends at college one week before his graduation, we found that we were seated right next to the president of the college.
Having a healthy amount of chutzpah, I walked up to her. “I am so sorry to bother you, but I have a unique problem that only you can solve.” I shared my tale of woe, unable to attend my son’s graduation ceremony. “May I ask you to do a pretend graduation? Will you hand my son this menu and congratulate him?” Of course, she obliged. The photo below hangs proudly on our picture wall, commemorating the faux graduation.
During these truly challenging (and crazy) times of COVID 19, many children of all ages will experience disappointments of all kinds. Beyond acknowledging and validating, what’s a parent to do? Make lemonade! When it comes to all the things that child won’t be experiencing, perhaps we need to “change that lens,” to quote Dewitt Jones, National Geographic photographer. It’s time to make lemonade. It’s time to be resourceful.
I am imagining living room graduations, from preschooler to college, grads’ families dressed in their finest and the room festooned with streamers. The graduates having made their own mortar boards and wearing bathrobes. I am picturing a family room prom. The room is decorated with banners; the lights are dimmed; Dad is the DJ. The attendees (daughter Amanda age 18; son Jason age 11) are wearing boutonnieres or corsages made of colored tissue paper.
Will it be the same? Of course not. It’s a reasonable (and hysterical) facsimile! Will it be memorable? Absolutely!
Many years from now, your memory of this time will be: stores shut down; grocery stores sold out of everything; people hoarding toilet paper; everyone wearing masks just to get the mail; homeschool your kids; you and your spouse arguing over nothing. Awful!
But your kids can have a different memory. Children tend to remember vividly the good stuff. The good memories can outshine the negative ones. You have a hand in shaping that memory. Don’t you want them to look back years from now and say: I remember that we couldn’t go to school and Mom/Dad tried to homeschool us. But we got to sleep later and have play breaks all day. I remember our family ate three meals a day together, and sometimes we ate dinner under the table. I remember going on scavenger hunts in the house and nature walks in the neighborhood. I loved Thursday night pillow fights and Family Movie nights. A few times we pitched a tent and slept in the yard.
You, too, can put a photo on your family picture wall to remind you of all the great, family times and the efforts to which you went to make lemonade. But first you actually have to make the lemonade. And don’t forget to add plenty of sugar.