Graduation 2017 – kindergarten style

By: By Mac McPhail - Contributing columnist

It’s another year, and I have not been asked to speak at a college graduation. And it doesn’t look like I’ll be giving the commencement address at a high school, either. Once again, I have my graduation commencement speech ready. And, once again, no one has called. I’m sure it’s just an oversight by school administrators. But maybe I have been aiming too high. So, just in case I’m asked to speak at a kindergarten graduation I have my speech prepared and ready to go. Here it is …

“Boys and girls, you all look so dignified in your little caps and gowns. But we all know that there are going to be snacks after the graduation ceremony, and that is what you are waiting for. Just let me talk to your moms and dads a few minutes, and then we will get to those tasty snacks.”

“Mom and Dad, the world around you is changing fast. That means that your child’s world is also changing fast. In the past, a cycle of change took a generation, or around forty years. Now it’s less than ten years. So, that means that there will be at least one cycle of change before your kindergarten graduate becomes an adult. Your child will need your guidance more than ever.”

“Senator Ben Sasse, in his new book, ‘The Vanishing American Adult,’ writes, ‘Our kids don’t always know the distinction between need and want.’ You parents have to help them learn the difference. He also advises parents to ‘prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.’ Some hard, physical labor as a child, and especially during the teenage years, may do more to instill qualities that a future employer may want than a specialty summer camp. It also may help develop the character that may enable your child to get through the rough times that they will probably face as an adult.”

“Easier is not always better. And I’m not just talking about children. To be truthful, and being a grandparent I know this, sometimes it is easier for us adults to cater to the whims of our children, rather than dealing with the training that they may need. But the more they learn how to handle difficult situations while they are young, with you there to guide them, the better they will be able to cope with the adversity they will surely face in the future.”

“Parents, your primary job as parents is not to raise good kids. Your most important responsibility as parents is to raise your child to be a good adult. Johnny and Sue can be great kids, and we hope they will be. They can be obedient, well mannered, popular, and get good grades. But that won’t necessarily make them a responsible adult.”

“By the way, before they can be a good adult, they will have to learn what it means to be “good.” Part of this fast changing world is the changes in our culture. Values are being redefined according to the popular culture. Parents, you must first make sure of your values, and then take the time and effort to instill them in your child.”

“Concentrating on developing your little kindergarten graduate into a good adult will be hard. You will often have to go against the tide of our current culture. And your child will let your know it. But they will benefit in the end, as they are ready to challenge the world that they will be facing as adults. And the rest of us will also benefit. We need them to be ready and prepared. Hopefully, they will be able to repair the mess that it looks like we will be leaving them.”

“And someone else will benefit from your efforts in doing your part in developing these little ones into responsible adults. You! You think dealing as a parent with the problems and aggravations that your precious munchkin will have as a child and a teenager are tough. And they are. But the problems and aggravations they may present as adults, if they are not prepared to be responsible, can be much more difficult. The pain can be more painful, long-term, and expensive. For everyone, including you.”

“I can see that our young graduates are getting restless. At least, unlike the scene at some college graduations this year, not one of our little graduates have booed or heckled me, or walked out. Well, except the one who had to go with her mommy to the bathroom. So congratulations, kindergarten class of 2017! Now let’s go get those snacks

Mac McPhail McPhail

By Mac McPhail

Contributing columnist

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at