How Much Beer Do I Need for My Son’s Fifth Birthday Party?

I’m feeling pretty emotional tonight — alternately weepy and wistful. Today my son (the baby) graduated from preschool and then we had a big party to celebrate his 5th (fifth!) birthday. Now, exhausted and more than a little wound up, I am blogging for the first time in months.

I used to scoff at kiddie graduation ceremonies. But now I see the value of this rite of passage. My son is old enough to comprehend that something special is ending and something new and unknown is coming. He patiently explained to me that the graduates would sing “Silver and Gold” because “ya know, Mom, it says, ‘make new friends but keep the old’ — like, we are going to make new friends but never forget our Glenridge friends.” He stood proudly in the paper crown and red felt sash he had decorated for the occasion. He understood and enjoyed the occasion.

But what I really grasped today was that the graduation is as much for the parents as for the children. This is particularly true at our preschool, which is a co-op where every family works in the classroom and helps with the running of the school. Working together and caring for one another’s kids helps build community and intimacy. In addition, being in the classroom with and under the supervision of our skilled director and teachers and attending parent education presentations means that the parents grow and learn nearly as much as the kids. In a sense, we are all graduating.

So now I find myself getting verklempt and humming Silver and Gold. These parents with whom I have shared so much and learned so much — who have comforted my children when they were sad and whose children have nestled confidently against me as I read to them — they form a community that has enriched my life. I will miss sharing the work of educating our little ones, and I will miss hanging out with them in playgrounds and kitchens as our kids play.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. Because as I planned my son’s party (superhero theme, rented jumpy house, and all), I was also making a party for the grownups. So yesterday I went to BevMo and got a case of beer and hoped it would be enough. Then I panicked — maybe I needed more? I found another six in the fridge. As it turned out, I got it about right. While the kids jumped like maniacs, decorated superhero masks and ran amok in the playroom, the parents clustered, beer in hand, talking and laughing. And I looked around at these friends and saw pure gold.

Thanks, Glenridge friends!

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