June 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Graduation…Here Come the Clichés

The year was 1984 and I graduated from Yavneh Academy. I was wearing a white dropped-waist dress, which was very fashionable at the time. Thirty years ago. Thir­ty years ago? How did that happen? Can’t re­member this morning, but I still remember dissecting chicken wings in seventh grade with Mrs. Kugelmass (that was her real name, though, with my name, I really should not comment on anyone else’s, but I digress). I haven’t eaten a chicken wing since, and that is saying a lot. We also dissected frogs in eighth grade, but eating a frog, unless it is made out of chocolate, hasn’t been an issue. My favorite teacher of all time was Mrs. Brody, because she introduced to me to the joys of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, and to the love of reading and writing. My best friends were Annie and Vicki and when we get together in the present, it still feels like 1984. And now, let us fast for­ward.

When we moved to Teaneck and son #1 was not yet 2 years old, we found out that we should have enrolled him in pre-nursery school. I made a bunch of phone calls, but to my surprise, discovered that not only was son #1 closed out, but any future children would also be put on a waiting list. At the time, I was a little upset, thinking my children would be at a disadvantage, but then I discovered the joy of the Mommy and Me class. There was tod­dlekins at the Rodda Center, Gymboree, wig­gles and tunes music class (now that is a cas­sette tape I hope I never have to play again… wait, what is a cassette tape? Google it kids, it’s the grandmother of the iPod), and cooking and art, all making my child a well-rounded in­dividual. But then his “formal education” need­ed to begin and it all started with Morah Sarah and Morah Brenda at Bnai Yeshurun nursery school. I thought that son #1 was the most mature, intelligent kid in the class (which, of course, he was). He made his first friends Jacob and Samiwool (how he pronounced it). He re­ceived good grades in coloring, gluing, shar­ing, hand washing and, of course, davening.

Then we made the decision to take a chance on a new school and he began Yeshi­vat Noam. He was one of the adorable guinea pigs that would turn out to be true trail blaz­ers (and not the kind from Portland for all of you basketball fans). It is hard to believe that those special boys graduated four years ago. At the time, that graduation ceremony felt four years long, but only because there was so much to celebrate (though the one thing left out of the many, many memories was the Noam victory against Moriah in hockey—yes, I brought up sports, you can deliver the boys out of the mom, but you can’t deliver the mom out of the boys!). Many of those boys went to TABC, where they have become amazing young men (as did the boys who went to oth­er schools; they are truly a special bunch and I say that with little to no sarcasm).

Those high school years, as many had warned me, went by in a second, in the blink of an eye. I am not sure what I am going to do next year when I no longer have Alex, David, Gaby, Zirman (I am pretty sure he has a first name, but I have never used it), MikeyHirt (one word), Judah, and others sitting on my couch, playing Xbox (or “studying” as they call it) and going through the contents of the snack draw­er. This group of boys has always been respect­ful of the fact that son #1 was usually sleep­ing on Friday nights when they would come to visit, but husband #1 and I were more than happy to hang out with them. This group of boys always included sons #2 and #3 in their discussions and never made them feel left out (which is more than I can say for son #1). And just like that, they are graduating and going off to Israel in just a few short months. I can­not even believe it, especially because I am still 17 years old.

Milestones; they happen every day. Whether we have a child that learns to walk, we go a whole day without eating ice cream, we celebrate a graduation, or we just wake up in the morning and smile, may we all be bless­ed to celebrate every single milestone, big or small, in good health and happiness. Congrat­ulations to all of the graduates!

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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