Madame Ms. Meniscus,

My son is graduating from college but I don’t think I can bear to sit through his graduation. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Is it ok to lie to him and say I sat through the entire ceremony?

–Veronica in Virginia

Oh my dear Veronica – it is ever so tempting to tell one of those white lies, why, at this very moment, as a late winter wind whistles between the trees, Madame Meniscus in the throes of an imaginary, rather unkind white lie that she would love to (but won’t) tell an acquaintance

 “ Dreary Debbie: I regret that I cannot attend your party mainly because while you’ll be droning on about nonsense and serving snacks that taste as if they’ve come from the pet supply isle of the local supermarket, I’ll be sipping pink champagne in Paris.“

This is terribly tempting to Madame Meniscus and she thanks you and your question for interrupting such thoughts; just imagine Madame Meniscus running into Debbie at the bakery when she’s supposedly in Paris?  Debbie’s party is not an equal comparison to your son’s graduation, but you don’t want him flush with happiness on his big day, remarking, “Wasn’t that an awesome speech Mom?”  This is no occasion for a white lie.

Madame Meniscus assumes that your son is well aware of your limitations and as such has had to make accommodations as well, in other words, he has witnessed previous occasions where you‘ve adapted to the particular situation at hand.  This is no different a situation, except that it calls for a compromise.

After all graduations are not only for the benefit of the graduate. They are here to mark the end of staggering tuition bills, and seemingly endless necessities; those extra long sheets, mini refrigerators, computers, and need we mention books, pens and paper (hopefully we still recognize such things).  

Dear Veronica, if it is at all possible, you mustn’t deprive yourself of sitting patiently in the sun (or rain) while a number of (dazzling) speakers entertain the crowd with promises and platitudes. And perhaps this is your point of entrance. If you can’t bear to sit through his graduation because you will be uncomfortable, then perhaps you can appear at the time of the conferring of the degrees. This way you will be present when your son’s name is called or when his particular class or department is identified. Often times there is a recessional immediately after, so you will experience enough of the ceremony and see the actual conferring of the degree to satisfy the both of you.

 Lastly most, if not all universities and colleges have disability resources and provide separate seating areas as well as wheelchairs and other services. You son will have access to this information and should be able to assist you; otherwise you can call the school or check the graduation page on the university or college website.

Were you to miss the important parts of your son’s graduation, your guilt would expand and take over the joy and happiness such an occasion deserves. How much finer to know that you are doing everything possible to witness the important moments of this day in a manner that fulfills both of you.

Madame. Meniscus offers her congratulations and wishes you and your son a memorable, happy day.

— MM

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