Charge your cameras and video recorders, bring the crowds, and don't forget the tissues. This may be the biggest day of your teen's life so far, and you want to make sure everything is right. Graduation is an emotionally symbolic day to celebrate four years of homework, assemblies, and growing up. You've been there through it all, and it doesn't end here. Read on to discover the most creative ways to celebrate and surprise your teen on his or her graduation day.
Get the right seat
You do not want to be sitting in the top left corner of the bleacher as your daughter gets her diploma. Arrive early with the family and let your child know beforehand what side of the stadium or building you will be on. She will want to find you in the crowd of hundreds, so bring a poster or large cheering section and get the right seat.
Record the moment
Avoid taping the twenty students before your child — you won't want to watch that ever. Take continuous pictures and video as your child walks, as he shakes hands, and even as he comes down the stairs. My older brother threw up two peace signs — yes, like Nixon — and the tradition stuck. I made sure when I came down from the stage I did the same pose and my family knew to capture it. Side by side, our graduation pictures are hilarious.
Bring a gift
On graduation day you will be surrounded by flowers and leis of every kind, so make sure you give your teen something, too. Money and candy leis are now trending, and cards full of money are always appreciated.
Get out of there fast
Unless you're the type to stay and chat a while, find an escape from the crowd and take the party somewhere else. Your child just graduated and the last thing he wants to do is linger around the school he is free from. Go to a nice dinner, go back home for a surprise party or find a more exclusive place to celebrate.
The natural thing to do would be to ask about college, future plans or what your teenager wants to do next. Not today, Mom. Don't bombard your teen about future plans the day of graduation. She probably has already been accepted to college, but don't make it a going away party. She'll be around for a little bit longer.
6. Take the friends out
If flowers or leis aren't your thing, have your son bring a few of his closest friends for a day out. Go-karts, bowling, movies, or even a nice meal will remind him of your support. Some students take foreign vacation trips for graduation, but even a nice day out with friends or family can mean a lot.
The most creative graduation gift I've seen involves Dr. Seuss' book "Oh The Places You'll Go!" One parent had each teacher, at the end of each school year, sign the book for the child as she grew up. On graduation day, the parents presented their daughter with this book full of teacher and mentor notes of love and encouragement. It might take some effort, but it really is a wonderful memento.
Congrats to your grad! This may be a sad moment for some, but don't let the future scare you. Your child is growing and maturing and is now in the "real world". Support him, love him, and be there for him without encouraging too much dependency. You survived graduation, after all.
Jenna Koford is on the content team at FamilyShare. She graduated with a degree in Communications—Journalism and a minor in editing. Jenna enjoys painting and calligraphy, planning a wedding, and Pinterest and Netflix.