23 May 2006

Congratulations, Kaleb!

My son, Kaleb, graduated from kindergarten today. Smiling and handsome in his sky-blue shirt and Navy-blue slacks, he could barely sit still. His first graduation! Last chance to see his classmates before summer! Last chance to see his teachers!

His grades were outstanding: straight "A"s and "Excellents". He also received two medals and 3 Certificates of Merit. And despite the marvelous showing, a tinge of disappointment: Kaleb wasn't chosen as the Honor Student of his class. The honor went to a girl who also excelled in every subject.

And belongs to the church that sponsors the school.

Neither Kaleb, his mom nor I belong to that church. Although Kaleb's mom feels affinity for the denomination, I don't feel anything and never will. I am not against My son receiving their religious indoctrination, but I will not join this or any other church to simply "belong" or "get an advantage."

Kaleb will eventually remember this graduation as the first time he encountered the reality of Our world: excellence might be important, but who you know matters more.

The honor student in his class, in fact, the honor students in ALL 11 classes, were members of the church. Happily, I don't know enough about all the other students to judge if this was fair or not, but I can judge this: of 190 students in the school, 106 are church members. So the "other 84," including Kaleb, are second-rate?

I know that's wrong. Kaleb was never second-rate. His grades were earned and his behavior, a better metric than tests, was exemplary throughout the year. His excellence was recognized, but when it came time to "choose Our best," the school made sure to "choose Our own."

So be it. None of this takes away from Kaleb's efforts, learning and positive experiences. He is simply growing up, making his way into a world that is not fair, not reasonable and swaths the velvet glove of praise around an iron fist of contempt.

However, Kaleb has something The Jenius never had: a natural empathy. Classmates sought him out for pictures (especially the girls; again, unlike his Pater...) and made sure to speak to him before they left. He is popular without acting spoiled. And if I sound like a proud father, you're right.

And as proud as I am of his academic achievements, Kaleb's friendliness and sociability make Me even prouder, for they give him the basis for reaching successes far beyond My own.

Congratulations, Kaleb!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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