It’s six o’clock in the evening at your local primary school.
A stretch limousine pulls in the staff car park, only a few metres away from the sandpit where five and six year olds play during the day.
Curious, you stop to see which celebrity is paying your local school a visit.
A chauffeur steps out and holds open the left hand door.
Craning your neck to get a glimpse of the visiting VIP you see an overdressed twelve-year-old girl stumbling out of the car followed by half a dozen of her friends all trying to do outdo each other in the fashion stakes!
They gather. They girlishly giggle. They arrange clothes that don’t quite fit and together they march past the sandpit into the school hall to begin their Primary School Graduation.
Welcome to Primary School Graduation Post-Millennial style where arriving in a stretch limo is the must-do for many kids!
While not every school’s graduation is like that and a relatively small number of students will actually come to their school’s graduation ceremony in a stretch limo the fact that many students consider it as a possibility shows how far the notion of normal has shifted.
So what’s with the big deal arriving in a limo? Nothing if stretch limousines and helicopters are in a child’s usual range of transport. If so they’ll obviously save up the chopper ride for their secondary school graduation. But if they are like the majority of the population whose parents drive around in a four-door car sans chauffeur then the whole limo-thing is a tad excessive.
But isn’t it good to splurge on kids once in a while? Yes, it’s great to treat kids a little differently and even a little older than they are for special events but that doesn’t mean we treat kids like the adults they are not. The trouble with popping your kids in a limo for a night is that you are giving them a treat that is cheap by association and nasty in its divisiveness. Let me explain.
Stretch limousines were once a novelty associated with celebrity and status. Now they are a dime a dozen, more likely to carry teenagers and twenty-something girls or guys for a night of cruising and boozing than transporting genuine celebrities around. Allow your child to travel in a limo like a grown-up and you tacitly align him or her with all the other activities associated with this mode of transport.
The primary school graduation should be a night that brings kids together to honour their primary school years and honour the teachers and friends that they shared this brief, formative journey with. Taking a stretch limo is a narcissistic act that says to everyone, ‘Hey! Look at me! I’m pretty cool/rad/mature because I’m acting older than I really am.’ It immediately places a child in a group separate from those who don’t come in a stretch limo. There’ll also be two groups of parents in attendance as well – those that gave their child permission to travel in style and those that resisted and didn’t cave in to their child’s pester power.
So if you are contemplating allowing your child to take a stretch limo to his or her primary school graduation event I suggest you think again. And if you’re struggling to counter the usual “Everyone else is doing this” argument that your young person may try out, then here are few sentences that may help: “I don’t think it’s appropriate for your age. Ask me again when you finish secondary school because I think it may make more sense then. In the meantime, enjoy your primary school graduation night. Don’t forget to thank your teachers for all they have done for you. And make sure you spend some time with as many of your classmates as you possibly can because it is them and not your mode of transport that will make this night special.”
Then congratulate yourself for swimming against the tide of popular opinion, which is one of the hardest things to do in modern parenting.